Jameson has it.
Jameson has it.
Another day, another tragedy.
Driving to work there was a massive speed trap set up on one of the roads I take.
Is that all they are good for? Revenue? How many times are we to witness this carnage? Shouldn’t the police be doing the hard work of, well, policing? Maybe I am over reacting. Enlighten me in the comments.
Remember the standard:
“If you are going to cover a song, rip it apart a bit and make it your own.”
Changes, by David Bowie:
And a remake by Lewis and Clarke:
I saw this one while perusing Jeff Carter’s excellent blog, Points and Figures, which you should take a look at every day. It particularly struck me today as I am going through some big changes in my life right now. Some good, some bad, but in the end, as my daughter keeps telling me, “everything will be just fine”.
Diagnosis: rhinitis medicamentosa.
I actually watched the Republican “debate” last night. What follows are my thoughts. Before we get to that, you should know that I generally don’t pay too much attention to politics and really don’t know what I am talking about in this arena. Which probably makes me an equal to most of the talking heads. My impressions.
“Winners” – before we get to my list of “winners”, maybe I should explain why I put it in quotes. By “winning”, I mean to define someone who I actually remember today that they said something instructive or constructive last night. Or they looked or acted sincere.
My big winner was Ted Cruz. He seemed passionate and sincere – a true believer. I loved the way he blasted the moderators for what were, at the least, obtuse questions. They were obviously trying to stir up the hornet’s nest and were also trying to damage the candidates for the future. Cruz saw through it and called it out. Bravo.
Another winner was Carly. She answered each and every question very succinctly and came up with some very intelligent, thoughtful answers very quickly. She adeptly brushed off the “you tanked HP” crap from the moderators.
I also liked, but didn’t love, Rubio. Another person who I feel is a true believer. Very well spoken and put Jeb in his place when attacked. Quick on his feet.
Didn’t win, but didn’t lose category:
John Kasich – I have followed Kasich for a while now and he has a lot of great ideas, but he is clearly uncomfortable in a suit. He always looks awkward. I think he would be great in an administration, but I don’t know if his goofy persona will play in a general election.
Huckabee – I think Huckabee is a good and honest person, but I can’t really remember anything specifically he said last night. I do remember that he is eloquent and speaks clearly and slowly and methodically. I would love to have him as an uncle.
Ben Carson – I am not really feeling the almost asleep method of how he speaks, but when he does speak, it is pretty intelligent. No clue how he is topping the polls in Iowa. I think he would be a fine president, but I just don’t really get it at this point.
Rand Paul – While the Libertarian in me likes what Rand Paul has said in the past and said last night, he totally fell flat. I get why he doesn’t want to get into the scrum, but I feel like he sort of mailed it in. Probably the next exit from the race.
Chris Christie – You might disagree with me, but I don’t like the east coast asshole schtick. I am from the Midwest and I deal with my share of East Coast people, and many of them are rude and want to steamroll me and I hate that. He said some great things, don’t get me wrong, but I just don’t like the delivery.
Jeb – You could tell he was desperate from the get go. He said nothing witty or remarkable. Probably time for him to pack it in as well.
Trump – same ol same ol. He’s just a blowhard. Says some good things about taxes and actually does a good job answering the questions. But I have always hated him so I probably am not giving him a fair shake.
Well, there you go, a totally amateurish take on the debate last night. Let me have it in the comments.
My oldest daughter just got diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Maybe it really isn’t called that, but she had a strong reaction on the test. She was feeling sore in her joints and they decided to give her the test. We will be having her re-tested to be sure, but are already taking appropriate steps with her diet.
I have had a discussion over the years with my better half that the whole celiac thing is overblown and that most of it is b.s. So this is a funny diagnosis in a goofy sort of way. My wife and I pretty much eat anything and everything and had passed that along to our kids. There are literally only four or five things I don’t like to eat and my wife is the same way. Protein, starch, vegetables, fruit, all in moderation. A balanced diet. Seems to work for us.
A friend of mine on Facebook posted something interesting about some research that is proving that most people when they are lied to about what they are eating and given placebos, feel “better” or “worse” depending on what they THINK they are eating. I completely believe this. One doctor (or so he said he was one) provided this comment, that to me, became the quote of the day:
In my practice I frequently see people who have NOTHING WRONG WITH THEM but who have a strong need to assume the role of a patient with some kind of diagnosis. I encourage them to go see “alternative medicine” practitioners. Indeed, the great benefit of alternative medicine is to provide the “worried well” with a pantomime theater of treatment.
While my daughter’s diagnosis could be true, I still believe that the vast majority of people who are going “gluten free” are doing so out of misinformation or wanting to be part of a fad. Just for kicks, my wife and I are getting tested as well. We hear that it is hereditary. But we both feel fine. Maybe we need to get our chakras in order and everything will be OK.
Recently I have been to the south of France four times to enjoy cycling vacations. The people there are super friendly and happy to have our tourist Euros. The food is outstanding.
I took French in high school and for a couple years in college, but dropped it. I have recently picked it back up and am learning every day – literally.
I have been using a free app called DuoLingo. It was pretty cool to see what I remembered after twenty something years.
I set a goal to do some French every day. The app rewards you for hitting your daily goal. I made it realistic – equivalent to about 20 to 30 minutes a day. I am on a 92 day streak as of this writing. I am competitive with everything, especially myself.
It is amazing how far I have come already. Now that I have knocked down most of the basic vocabulary and tenses, it is getting more difficult – but I am learning quickly. The app works you over in several ways. It says something that you have to write, or shows something that you have to translate (English to French and French to English) or shows you something that you are supposed to say into the voice recognition.
While the app isn’t perfect, it is very, very good. I feel at this point if I could get someone to slow down while speaking that I would have a pretty good chance of getting around, ordering in a restaurant, reading basic travel information, etc. Someday I want to buy a little place in France so obviously learning the language is key – not to mention fun (to me anyways). I would recommend DuoLingo if you are interested in refreshing your language skills – it works on all of your platforms, and if you are in a place where you can’t speak, you can simply turn off that function.
DuoLingo isn’t perfect – at a certain point down the road I will likely have to find a new app or hire a private tutor to perfect my conversational French, but for these basic building blocks, it is fantastic.
But this particular post isn’t necessarily about DuoLingo – it is about learning on my time. In the past, something like this would be unimaginable. You would have to hire a private tutor or go to community college. My life isn’t structured that way. I am a business owner with kids all over the place so I need to approach learning French when I have 20 minutes here or there. I recently looked at the local community college for French courses and they only offered it at 6pm to 8.30pm on Tuesday and Thursday night. Not gonna happen.
With DuoLingo, I hit it when and where I want to. Waiting for a kid to get out of dance class? DuoLingo. Someone is late for an appointment or maybe I am early? Same thing. I don’t have 2.5 hours to sit in a chair twice a week, away from my house or work.
There are a lot of apps out there, and like with the first inning of the game, Khan Academy, I am excited to see how these new learning methods and interfaces come to fruition in the future.
We aren’t there yet, but I think eventually kids graduating high school will be able to say “why college?” – and I think that is a great thing.
Adults who want to simply further themselves no longer need to sit around at the local community college.
Years ago, Shannon Love did a series of posts on these pages about “number gut”. From this post:
A number gut is an intuitive feel for the possible magnitude of a particular number that describes a particular phenomenon. A good number gut tells you if the results of some calculation are at least in the ball park.
My number gut (or b.s. detector, in this case) went off today when I saw this story. Here is the money:
Chicago Public Schools officials on Monday proposed a $5.7 billion operating budget for the upcoming school year…
Holy crap that is a lot of money. There are 396,000 students in the CPS. $5.7bb / 396k = $15,447 per student. Really.
From this article from 2014 about the most expensive private schools in Illinois, it looks like all of the students could go to Loyola Academy, and can almost all go to St. Ignatius College Prep for that kind of money.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 26, 2015
I am guessing he caved to some large Hollywood donors, but I don’t really know for sure.
I have written about optics before and am going to take another trip down this trail.
The prison escape in New York has my interest. I am sort of rooting for the bad guys. But not for the wrong reasons. The reason I am rooting for the bad guys is that I believe that folks need to understand that they need to be prepared to take care of themselves in emergency situations, rather than relying on “professionals”. In the end I want the murderers caught, of course, but in the meantime, we have some delicious drama brewing.
As I wrote back when the Boston police and others make a Keystone Cops type showing trying to chase down the Tsarnaev brothers, these are some pretty poor optics for the police, but they are doing everything they can to make it look better. I see the same old nonsense on TV – a line of cops saluting and marching down the street, all to make a show to the locals and/or folks watching on TV that they have overwhelming force and are going to catch the bad guys. This was done in Boston and also in Baltimore. Who put this in the official police manual to handle a crisis? I wonder if the manual looks like this:
Step one. We have a crisis. Everyone line up, salute and march down the street.
Step two. ??
Step three. Crisis solved. Praise all and treat everyone like a hero.
This is one of the most ridiculous things I have seen so far from a few days ago:
What on earth is going on here? Is the sniper actually looking to fire at something? Why aren’t the other guys at all concerned? Why is he laying on top of a van?
I keep hearing that the man hunt is “intensifying”. How much more intense can it get? They have all sorts of Hummers, choppers, sniper gear, and cops from who knows how many districts all looking for a couple of guys who are either laughing their asses off somewhere in Mexico, or very much hurting by now somewhere in the woods. Somewhere in the woods that all of these forces gathered have missed several times now.
I am sure it is super pleasant to be living in these towns right now.
What on earth was Cuomo touring the escape site supposed to prove? He will have zero involvement in the investigation or manhunt.
I know a thing or two about mechanicals, tools and steam pipes – we are not hearing half of what these guys did do get out of the prison – much of what the media has reported doesn’t make sense at all. I understand that the media is on the cops’ tether at this point, but I will be very interested to someday read just exactly what these guys did to escape. I imagine it took them years of planning.
If they get caught, we will hear some Seargeant or whoever claim how heroic everyone was, just like always.
I hope the public gets the sense that just like when the Tsarnaev brothers were keeping thousands of “professionals” at bay, just like these escapees are that they need to prepare to be on their own just a bit. But I won’t get my hopes up. So far, I would say that the cops have some pretty bad optics going as of now.
Most of the tributes you see and hear today about BB will feature crap like “The Thrill Is Gone” and that terrible song he did with Bono. This is the real deal and is what I cut my teeth on when I was discovering the Blues. You can thank me later. Godspeed.
Cross posted at LITGM.
Moody’s has downgraded the rating of the debt of the City of Chicago to “junk”.
This triggers all sorts of crazy swap termination fees, accelerated payments, and the like. The damage of the downgrade is in the billions of dollars.
The City of Chicago has been in a death spiral for a while now, and I think it is probably time to just go all “Detroit” and get it over with. The bondholders will get a haircut, as well as the pension funds and everybody else.
But that aside, here is yet another case where if the Republicans were smart, they could simply run on a “we’re not them” platform. Every single thing that has happened in Chicago has come under the Democrats’ watch. There is no way out for them. They created it, they participated in it, and they kicked the can down the road for the current generation to watch it all implode.
I have written about this before, but either the Republicans are too nice, or don’t care. It is so easy to put this at the Donks’ doorstep. I just don’t understand why the Republicans don’t do it.
This implosion of a once great city is disgusting and should be front page news. But it isn’t.
I grew up in Rockford, Illinois in the seventies. I lived what would now be considered a pretty rough existence. I ate hot dogs a lot, all of my “new” clothes came from the Salvation Army, our house was perpetually cold in the winter since we couldn’t afford to turn up the thermostat too high, etc. etc. But we all understood what we had to do, and I was never wanting.
I sincerely feel that growing up in that sort of environment prepared me very well for my later life. Through a lot of hard work, I have become relatively successful, but remain rooted in reality – I would say that I am frugal, but not cheap. I hate waste.
My parents sacrificed a lot to send me to a private Baptist school, and I later attended a private Assembly of God school. In the seventies and early eighties, certain areas of Rockford were very rough. I saw the neighborhood I grew up in transform from one that would be considered your typical All American Neighborhood, to one that had half torn down houses, open air drug dealing and all the rest. We left that area for a better one out by the airport. When much of the heavy manufacturing base left, so did many of the good things that came with it in Rockford. But the people didn’t really change that much.
Boy was I in for an awakening when I moved just 70 miles to the north to Madison, Wisconsin. Completely different deal to be sure. It was really quite the culture shock. I still laugh to myself when I see things in Madison that I consider strange. But I digress.
The video below talks about some of the old manufacturing base in Rockford and even shows the (still) beautiful Sinnissippi Gardens, along with some of the hotels and other buildings that I recognized from my youth that were repurposed by the time I was growing up, and have been repurposed again since. My wife and I had our first real date at the Sinnissippi gardens where I bought her a – hot dog – for lunch. Rockford wasn’t all bad. I made it work.
As we all know, Baltimore is going through some interesting times. I sat down for a bit last night and popped on the news to watch the spectacle. One thing I noticed right away was the optics. I don’t want to get all crazy about the mayor saying it was OK for the cops to let the fine, upstanding citizens of Baltimore destroy their own city. Many, many others are doing that just fine. I wanted to comment on the optics of the situation and how bad they were. Here is the original press conference from a couple days ago (the “destroy” part is around the 7.30 mark)
What is she dressed in? Why is the pastor dressed with the odd black top and leather sleeves – and what in the world was he talking about? What on earth is the guy in the hoodie with “true religion” emblazoned across the chest doing there? To say that this doesn’t exactly instill confidence in being able to handle a situation of this sort would be quite the understatement. This is the mayor of Baltimore’s inner circle?
Here is the presser from last night, where the mayor announces the week long curfew:
Ah hah. Someone got a phone call. She now has make up on, jewelry, a nice top. Guys in suits and uniforms around her appeared later in the presser. The optics have certainly changed.
Then the governor of Maryland came on:
He is in a suit, tie and is surrounded by well dressed people (i.e. adults) and a person in a military uniform. He is decidedly overweight and looks pretty bad, but that is getting a bit off track. The Maryland governor stated later that he signed the emergency orders “about 30 seconds” after the mayor of Baltimore requested it. I imagine it was before that, but whatever.
Tonight is another night, and I assume the optics of that first presser won’t be seen again.
Today we see that the latest bond offering from the Chicago Board of Education will be priced at over twice what a BBB offering demands. That is brutal. I still won’t touch that with a ten foot pole.
It is inevitable that the State of Illinois and City of Chicago and their organs will be having major financial issues, to say the least, within a year or two. It could be Detroit on an inter-galactic scale.
My question is this – why don’t the Republicans make the Democrats own these massive boondoggles? I understand that in Illinois, many of them are in on the fun – however, the State of Illinois, City of Chicago and Detroit have all been essentially run by Democrats for literally generations – and it is all blowing up.
Is the issue too complex for Joe Six Pack to understand or care about? Are the Republicans afraid to be held to a higher standard? I just don’t understand why they wouldn’t shout from the mountain tops at how much graft, corruption and incompetence it takes to completely tank a city with as much potential as Chicago and a State with so many potential positives as Illinois.
Winter has a lot of negative effects on our property. As is the rite every Spring, we need to fix things broken, ground that has moved, fencing that has shifted, and other items. The maintenance of the coat of Jameson The Hundred Pound Dog (we have been calling him, more appropriately, the Jameson Experience) is among these tasks. No matter how hard we have tried in the past, this long haired mutt just has no hope when it comes to his long coat. We always wait until Spring to shave the mess of matted hair and dreadlocks that he accumulates over the Winter. That way we only have to do it once, and he doesn’t have to shiver when outside in the cold season. Before:
Over the holidays my daughter went to London on a trip with her band and marched in the New Years Day parade. As Christmas presents, her grandparents wanted to send her over with some spending money. I didn’t trust her with cash and didn’t want her to incur the expense and hassle of currency exchange, so we bought her prepaid VISA gift cards. When they got spent down, there was a couple bucks left on each. What do to.
It is difficult to transfer the funds to a bank account without incurring expenses. I found out that Amazon will allow you to purchase a “gift card” for yourself in any amount. We just did that for all of the gift cards and it worked very quickly and to perfection so we were able to drain the cards and can now cut them up and use the funds.
One of the best vacations I ever took was with Jonathan as we tackled the famous El Caminito del Rey. You can see footage of that glorious day here:
For those who may be a little less adventurous, parts of the route have been re-built and are now officially re-opening. You can see a website on the Caminito and the restorations here.
A few weeks ago while sitting around, my wife and I started discussing the Next Big Thing. My new smart phone is simply an improvement over the last one – that isn’t it.
I will tell you what is the Next Big Thing – driverless cars.
I had heard about them a few times before reading America 3.0, and they are mentioned in that book. I send Lex links about testing and we have both come to the conclusion that the big hurdle with them won’t be the technology – it will be regulatory hurdles. But this is coming faster than we all think – and there really won’t be much anyone can do to stop it since the demand will be intense.
I imagine the cops will be trotting out “safety” issues when the real reason will be that their days of writing dumb speeding tickets will be over. That revenue train, along with the DUI industry, will take major hits. I imagine they and others will fight this to the end. Insurance companies will likely see damage done – as crash rates go lower, they will be forced to drop premiums, or people will just go to a simple liability policy and chance the crash.
As for me, I lose 70 minutes a day of productivity sitting in my car. All isn’t lost since I listen to Bloomberg business news, however if I could have that 70 minutes to catch up on email, or to simply further myself by reading a book it would be a huge plus in my life. How about being able to have more than one glass of wine with dinner with my wife at a nice restaurant or at a wedding reception and not having to worry about a DUI?
Elon Musk says that we will be ready, tech wise, in five to six years:
Mr. Musk expects autonomous driving to be safer for riders and pedestrians by a factor of 10.
I absolutely believe this. In addition, when the computer gets traffic reports, it will choose the quickest way to the destination, and will choose the speed to use the least amount of fuel.
This article is interesting from CNBC. Here is a quote:
But for some mass market brands like Chevy, Honda or Volkswagen, Winterhoff says it will tougher to compete and win in a world where self-driving cars usher in the idea of mobility on demand.
“Autonomous drive vehicles will mean many families will need fewer cars and if you only have one car instead of two, you will likely make it a premium brand,” he said.
Imagine having only one car for a family of four. In my life, it would drop me off at work, head home and transport the wife if she needs to go somewhere, pick up/drop off a kid at school, head to the market where my groceries will be loaded by a clerk there that I have already paid for with Google Wallet, etc. etc.
When you get talking heads speaking about winners and losers, you can feel that it is on the way. I just can’t wait.
My blogmate Gerry has put up a fascinating post about Adobe Photoshop and its history as relates to Apple, Ad Agencies and advertising. You can view it here if you are interested.
Carl’s great stories have inspired me to share a few of my own. First some background.
I work in HVAC/R distribution. HVAC/R means Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. The function of my company is to house manufacturers goods on a local level, mark them up, sell them to licensed HVAC companies and facilities, and then collect the money. It sounds simple, but that is what I do. In general, we get paid to come up with solutions to people’s problems – sometimes very quickly. If you are suffering because of the weather, I am happy because the extremes make me money. Nobody cares about me when it is 75 degrees outside. However, we also have a commercial refrigeration piece, and that business is year ’round.
HVAC in general is a relatively tiny part of our economy, and most numbers I have heard put it at around $25bb annually here in the USA. My job is very demanding, requires long hours, and is extremely competitive.
Everyone has had an experience or two with their climate control systems. When I go to parties and people find out what I do, the conversation always ends up with me in the basement looking their mechanicals over and giving a recommendation or two.
I have a lot of friends when the weather gets below zero or above ninety degrees.
For those of you who have never experienced weather below zero degrees, I actually recommend you travel somewhere and see what it is like. Just once.
I get lots of calls from people wanting me to open up the shop after hours. One frigid night back in the 90s, a good customer called and needed a furnace. This night, it was a blizzard (and I mean a literal blizzard where you couldn’t see anything) on top of the extreme cold temps. It was mayhem. I questioned the guy on the phone and said “really it can’t wait for tomorrow”?
Well, this furnace apparently heated a tiny room at a very large insurance company that housed their servers. If this area wasn’t heated up and the pipes burst it would cause untold millions of dollars of damage. They had redundant heating systems but those had failed too. I sighed, kissed my wife goodbye (hopefully not for the last time) and got in my vehicle for the long drive to work to open up the store.
Normally the drive took 15 minutes but this night it took almost an hour. It was the craziest thing I have ever done. A cop pulled me over on the way and asked me what the f@ck I was doing (he literally said that) out in this blizzard and I told him and he understood and let me go.
When I got to work the wind had been blowing so hard that my parking lot was encased in three feet of snow and ice. I had to park on the street. I walked up to the front door and dug it out and opened up the shop. My customer arrived a few minutes later. As I was gathering the things he needed for this furnace changeout, I asked him how the f@ck were we going to get the stuff from the building to the street? After talking a bit, I came up with the idea of the “furnace toboggan”. I had a bunch of cardboard in the warehouse and strapping material. We wrapped the furnace in this cardboard and pushed it outside to the lot and pulled it through the snow down to the street (approx. 50 feet). We repeated the process with the rest of the materials he needed for his job. He thanked me profusely for what I had done for him and offered me a (terrible, canned) beer from his truck. I said “what the heck” and had one with him – we were both exhausted from pulling the heavy toboggan through the snow twice and needed an attitude adjustment. He is a good customer to this day for saving him that account although I do not support boozing in your vehicle especially when you are going to soon be wiring and gas piping. I found out a few years ago that he had quit drinking – obviously he had a problem.
On the way home I got stuck twice and pulled over by the same cop who laughed when he saw it was me again on the way home. He said the only other people he has seen on the road are drunks, which I believe since they are probably the only people crazy enough to be out there in that mess – besides an HVAC distributor helping a customer out of a bad jam.
Next episode – Tormenting a Fortune 500 CEO.
Lone Star Sons by Celia Hayes (buy direct from the author)
Lone Star Sons by Celia Hayes (Amazon)
Back in September, our very own Sgt. Mom, aka Celia Hayes, was shamelessly plugging her new book, Lone Star Sons. I bought a book and was pleasantly surprised to find what appears to be a personalized inscription on the inside:
Low Dow –
Our Mom in Madison!
Wide op predator –
Undeterred by what appeared to be a cipher of some sort, I forged ahead and read the book. I really liked it.
I don’t read much fiction, but if I do, it needs to be historically based, and Hayes does a great job of really bringing you into the time period of old Republic of Texas. The descriptions of the scenes were very realistic and I could almost smell the stews that the Mexican ladies were making on the square on a daily basis.
Lone Star Sons is six short stories of Texas Ranger Jim Reade and his Indian helper/comrade Toby Shaw. They travel far and wide on their assignments which vary from murder investigations to search for buried treasure.
The end section was most enjoyable for me, as Hayes explains what parts of the short stories were hers, and which were historically based.
The book reads very quickly, as once you start getting interested in the characters, the book is difficult to put down. I would highly recommended it if you need a good idea for a stocking stuffer for someone who likes these type of frontier stories.