Quote of the Week

"One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty councils."
- Woodrow Wilson



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Observation on Winter Commuting and Social Media

 
Surprisingly, luck is on my side as it is not my week to drive when the first snowfall of the season hit us this Monday morning. As I enjoyed the rode from the passenger side, I made an observation based on my Facebook fed. You can tell a lot about a persons work ethic by what they post about their commute.
 
One of my over the top liberal school teacher friends was posting on Facebook something about enjoying a "snow day" and planning on doing nothing but relaxing in her pajamas, drink coffee and watch TV today. She did this a fair amount last winter, then complained in the late spring about something called "make up" days that she was forced unfairly do. Poor thing.
 
On the far other end of the spectrum a friend posted triumphantly that he was able to drive to work, even though the commute was slow going and took an extra 20 minutes. But he was still as proud as if he climb the K2 solo. I guess we all take pride in something, some take pride in every, single, thing.
 
Fortunately there are still a large percentage of people who simply get up, brush the snow off their vehicle, and just go to work. Snow happens in the winter around here, act like you've seen it before and carry on.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Voter ID Laws. No argument, but the arguing continues....

Now that it's getting closer to election time, the neverending debate of Voter ID laws are a topic of choice again. To me this is down right embarrassing that this debate continues.

Those who are adamantly opposed to such laws scream it hinders the poor and elderly from being able to vote. They say many people have no photo ID and this makes things too tough for them. And the closer is usually something along the lines of "voter fraud is so small, it really doesn't matter."

I tend to point out that their arguments have no merits at all. You need an ID to get a job, a loan, a checking or savings account, buy ammo, tobacco or alcohol (when your age is in question), to even get a library card.

State ID's are free, so it by no means an inconvenience to the poor. Who by the way if are really poor, need an ID to get food stamps. The only inconvenience is someone has to take a few hours of time to get an ID. Since the normal election cycle is 2 years, the average person has about 730 days to get this taken care of.

That means the elderly shut in or poor person who has no car has 730 days to arrange a ride and or time off of work to go the DMV for their free state issued ID. As I often said, people today put more thought and effort into voting for the next American Idol or who the draft for their fantasy football team than who they send to the state & federal capitals to represent them.

Usually after I state my case like I just did above, the usually rebuttal is something along the lines of "if everyone needs an ID, those who are dishonest know how to get them. So it doesn't really make any difference."

Those who are going to break the laws are going to break them anyway, so why bother? Is that the final line of defense for those who don't want Voter ID laws?

Interesting reason to oppose something. Since there is apparently nothing we can do to stop the rulebreakers, maybe we just shouldn't have rules to begin with? Would make things simple and save us a ton of money. No need for government to make new laws, police to enforce them, judges & courts to make sure they are being enforced properly, or jails to imprison the convicted. Sounds pretty silly doesn't it? Just about as bad as the arguments against Voter ID laws.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Thank You Technology for Taking Us Backwards, or Do We Just Don't Like Talking to Eachother?

The way man communicates hasn't really changed much since the dawn of civilization. Pretty much the two predominant ways are vocally or by written text. About the only thing that has changed is there are more methods to rely the communications.

The original and still the best way, is talking to someone face to face. Then came along the idea and practice of writing things down. People typically prefer to talk face to face, especially in business where important meetings are still held face to face even with all of the modern technologies. Beside showing sincerity and commitment by making the effort to meet; it allow helps eliminate miscommunications since tone and body language can easily be seen.

This first improvement is still the most significant of all time. It allows people to communicate over distance and time. It also allows documentation, which is a big plus for sharing and retaining information.

Not much has really changed with how we communicate today, besides the technologies used to do it. We still talk and write things down. We meet each other face to face and send written letters much the same ways since antiquity. Just our modes of transportation and mail delivery have improved. But there has been improvements in specific methods of delivering the message.

I think the biggest leap forward came with the invention of the telegraph in 1832. Now for the first time people can converse over long distances almost instantly. Instead of traveling or sending a message by mail, taking days maybe weeks to reach the destination; a person can write a short note, send it electronically to a far off place where someone reads the short note in text.

From the dawn of man to 1832, not a whole lot happened. But from 1832 to 2014 an incredible amount has. The telegraph, telephone, wireless radio communication, television, fax machines, cordless phones, the internet, email, cellular phones, communication satellites, web sharing, voice over internet, video conferencing, and I'm sure several other technical wonders I am forgetting.

Now in 2014 almost everyone I know has a tiny smartphone that fits in the palm of there hand. With it, the can talk to almost anyone in the world, the can send and receive photos and videos, and they can access the limitless information on the internet.

And how do most people use this almost magically technical wonder to communicate the most? With a short text message. Basically the same way we used the telegraph starting in the 1830's. Full of abbreviations, acronyms and bad sentence structure to shorten up the message. Which has been destroying our language by the way. Thank you, Technology for taking us backwards over 180 years! May b mor cause ppl can't type real wrds now.

Or do we just don't like talking to eachother? I guess that could be it too.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

My Yard Sign Observations of the 2014 Election Cycle

Now that we are ramping up the BS for this election cycle, the yard signs are spreading through the neighborhood lawns faster than dandelions do in the spring. I personally find them annoying on many levels. Some day I will do my stunt I mentioned a few years ago here.

Today I made a drive through some scenic areas along the St. Croix River Valley and two things regarding the political yard sign I noticed. The first is something that may confirm my ideas of how people with similar political views tend to live in a particular town or neighborhood.

A town or area that is more industrial or business oriented, requiring skilled or semi-skilled labor tends to be more conservative. And a town or area that is more service industry oriented with craft stores, hotels, restaurants and other service businesses catering more  to tourist and entertainment seekers are usually more liberal.

On my drive today the towns that have well developed industrial parks and office centers seemed to have more yard signs for the Republican candidates and the towns that had more craft stores, speciality shops, and touristy restaurants predominantly had signs for Democratic candidates displayed.

That was not meant to be a knock or put down on anyone, just an observation that, when I think about it makes sense to me. People who have industrialist or production type careers tend to have conservative views and people who have more of a service or artistic career tend to be more liberal.

The other thing I ended up paying attention to on my little trip today was how many signs were in a person's front lawn. If a saw a yard that had one sign, maybe two. It projected the message of "the person who lives here likes this particular candidate." Especially if the campaign sign was for a local or county office.

The houses that had every single candidate from local to federal campaigns lined up all from one political party, it shouted an entirely different message to me. It screamed "the person who lives here is a proud member of a political party. This person refuses to think for themselves and will vote down the party line accordingly per the script provided to them by the party, a union, or lobbyist group. This person blames all problems on the other party for their wrongful views and agenda, and that party's refusal to compromise by agreeing on everything my favorite party proposes."

That was meant to be a knock or put down on everyone who always votes along party lines. Your refusal to think on yourself, research the candidates and for the ones best for the job, regardless of political party is why we have career politicians and we our democratic republic now more resembles an oligarchy.


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Saturday, October 4, 2014

Spewing pollution sometimes is all in one's persective

I do my best not to argue, especially with strangers, even more especially with strangers on the internet. But for some reason I remembered this morning, as I mowed my yard for the last time a time, I felt obligated to do just that.

Years ago, about this time a friend and I where having a discussion under her Facebook status about getting ready for winter. One of her friends comments about her "asshole of an old man neighbor who was running his outboard boat motor in his garage, spewing pollution into the air." She went on and on for a long paragraph about how this old guy didn't care about the environment.

Even though I knew better, this woman's comments struck a nerve with me. So I politely commented that all he was doing was winterizing his outboard, And that what he was doing help ensure that the motor will run properly in the future. And in the long run this would cause less pollution.

I should have stopped there, but of course I went on to say that while it may appear he's wasting gas and polluting the air no reason, is it any worse than someone running an outboard motor in a lake? Since they are serving no purpose other than personal enjoyment by going fishing, pleasure cruising or maybe water skiing; they are not accomplishing anything productive or required for daily life. In reality, maybe the guy enjoyed sitting in his garage watching the motor run, is that really anymore environmentally unfriendly than motoring around a lake simply for enjoying the view?

Of course I was called an asshole for pointing this out, but I couldn't help it. Too often we see something and scream about how wrong it is for whatever reason, but fail to realize how similar that act is to things we deem acceptable environmentally, socially, politically, etc,

Friday, October 3, 2014

What if we were attacked in order to help us

Now that the US military is bombing ISIS locations across the Middle East, I can't help but wonder: What if we were attacked in order to help us? How would that set with Americains?

What if the drug gangs got so bold and out of hand that Canada launched airstrikes on part of Chicago or Detroit in an effort to stop violence and restore peace? Or some ultra religious militarized group (insert the faith and location of your choosing here) began attacking others around them in the United States. How would we react if UN or NATO drones started taking out their training camps located within the United States?

I can't help but think that us continuingly being the "world's police force" is just simply adding fuel to the hate the USA fire. I honestly feel if we need to interfere with the affairs of other countries, it should be done in one of two ways. Either we need to declare war and invade the country. This, of course can't be done if the trouble makers we are after are not the leaders of that country. In fact, it rarely works out well when the trouble makers are the leaders of that country. Occupying foreign lands just isn't a good idea, unless a country truly wants to keep that land forever.

The other option is to stop this BS of calling it an international coalition of action, or something catchy like that. We need to call it what it really is: being a hired gun for a country that can't take care of it's own problems. Then the blame of the problem will fall on where it belongs; the people causing the problems in the first place and the people who can't stop it on their own.

What happens now is a problem gets out of hand, an international response that is made up mainly of the US military responds, and anger from around the world is directed to the problem and the United States.

What I feel it should be done is how it has been done in the past. When a country can't handle it's own internal problems, they hire the services of another country's military. In other words, when things get out of control, they brought in mercenaries. That way the displeasure would be directed to where it belongs, to the government that is responsible for the problems in the first place.

Seems like a strange idea today, but a few hundred years ago countries like Switzerland did quite a bit of business in the mercenary industry. Maybe instead of World Cop, NATO and the US could be World Hired Gun. Maybe after we fires off a cruise missile at terrorist training camp, we fire off an invoice to the host country's defence department for services rendered. Sounds weird, but maybe it would help get our defence budget paid for.

Or I suppose there is the third option. Let someone else be world cop. I'd be fine with that too.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Shouldn't brag, but I'm going to

I just did something over my lunch break that I don't think many are capable of doing anymore. I know I shouldn't brag, but I'm going to.

My lunch started out pretty normal. I ate two peanut butter sandwiches at my desk. I know, exciting right? Then I made a quick trip to the Post Office and the corner hardware store. So what's the big deal you may ask? I left my phone on my desk. On purpose.

I just plugged it into the charger when I took my first bite of sandwich and since it wasn't done charging when it was time to run some errands, I left it behind.

That's right, I went a good 20 minutes without the ability to send or receive phone call, email or text message. No why to see Twitter or Facebook updates. What was I thinking?!

I was thinking "do I really need to adjust my schedule based on the battery of some device?" I decided no I did not. I had no need to call anyone and I was not expecting a call. Besides, does anyone actually call people anymore? Sometimes it seems no one does. I could also go 20 minutes without returning an email. And to be honest, if I never looked at Facebook or Twitter again it may be a good thing.

We have become so chained down by, ironically, wireless devices we can almost not function without technology that either didn't exist or was a luxury item just a few years ago. Kind makes you wonder how much hope is left for the modern man?

Good Neighbors are Great

As fall is in full swing, it becomes a very busy time for me. As the days get shorter and the air cooler, I am reminded of all the things I need to do around the house and property before another long winter sets in. On top of that, it's also time for hunting and football.

The biggest chore facing me before winter is to get the firewood I have cut taken care of before the snow flies. I need to get it split, hauled in and stacked. I've been chipping away at it, splitting by hand and piling it up in the woods. But this last weekend my neighbor helped me with his time and use of his hydraulic splitter and ATV. With the extra set of hand and his power equipment, we got more done on a Sunday than I have done by myself over the last few weeks.

In return, I'm going to help him build a new shed next weekend. This is typically how we spend many weekends. He helps me with a project, and I help him with one in return. It works out great having a neighbor that you get along with and is willing to help.

Besides work projects, we also keep an eye on each other's property when we are gone. It is reassuring to know that your house is looked on to when you're on the road for an extended time by someone you know can can trust.

I am very fortunate to have great neighbors and kind of find it sad to think that this is not as common as it as before. I find it weird that as the world has grown smaller, we tend to know our neighbors less and less. I'm not saying we should be best friends with all our neighbors and know them like family, but we should at least know who they are.

Knowing your neighbors is something that is lost in today's world. And I think that is a problem with society when you don't even know the name of the people who live around you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Not sure if waiting is the hardest part, but it's annoying

While sitting in a customer's lobby, I noticed they had 5 clocks on the wall. Each one set to the time zone that one of their facilities was in. There was a range of 3 minutes difference in the times and one clock was about a half inch higher than the rest. It was all I could do to sit there and not fix them.

Guess it's the Engineer in me, or some sort of OCD thing. Whatever you want to call it, I just sat there, staring at the clocks, getting more annoyed by the minute. The exact minute apparently varied depending on the time zone.

The clocks were not the main reason for my annoyance. I was mostly bothered at the fact that I was still sitting in the lobby waiting for my contact.

One of my dad's sayings is "my two biggest pet peeves is making people wait for me because I'm running late, and waiting for people who are running late." They may not be my biggest pet peeves, but they are up there on the list for sure. I like to be on time and I do not like to wait longer than I should.

I think it is very important to be on time. Especially in your professional life. Being late can speak volumes to a customer, vendor, employer and employee. Being late can make you appear unorganized, inept, and unqualified. Being late can make you appear not caring or even conceded. Being late can only give a bad impression, or at the very least be found annoying and unprofessional.

Especially if you are late for an appointment that you set the time for. This may seem trivial, and many times it very well may be. Life does happen and we can't always make our time. Being a few minutes late to the weekly budget meeting because you were on the phone with a customer is one thing, being 10 minutes late for a initial meeting with a potential new customer is quite another.


Monday, September 29, 2014

The U.S. Constitution, Void Where Prohibited

While I rarely waste my time debating strangers online about anything, but especially religion and politics; I make a point to steer completely clear from people who say things like "that can't happen, it's against the Constitution."

You hear that a lot from people who argue for more gun control when pro gun people express their concerns about confiscation, or having to defend themselves against a tyrannical government. They say stuff along the lines of "they can't confiscate your guns for no reason, it would be against the Constitution" or "the military can't be used against the US citizens, it's against the Constitution."

I always get a chuckle out of people saying they others don't need a Constitutional right or it should be infringed upon, because they will be protected by another Constitutional right instead.

Of course you see the "you have nothing to worry about, it's a against the Constitution for a host of other debates besides the 2nd Amendment. It like people think the Constitution is some magical, supernatural object. They act like if a tyrannical government or rouge military force attempted to violate it, their faces would melt like the Nazis in Raiders or the Lost Ark.

But that's not the case. As great as it is, the Constitution is just paper and words. Words that can easily be ignored or rebuked by any power that has the capabilities to back up their actions by convincing words, or brute force.

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