Quote of the Week

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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Mother of All Attack Ads

Recently I went on a long weekend trip to North Dakota. It is an annual bird hunting trip with family and friends. I look forward to this every year. Lots of fun with great people and dogs, enjoying the rugged beauty of the prairies and the wildlife.

It is a refreshing vacation, taking me away from the stress and responsibilities of today's hectic life for a few days. On election years, it used to be a break from the negative, attack political ads that flood the mail and airwaves in Northwestern Wisconsin. It's bad enough to have to put up with them, but where I live, most of the radio and television stations come from the Twin Cities market, so I have to tolerate ads for candidates who aren't even running for offices that represent me.

I say the North Dakota trip used to be a break from the attack ads, because up until this election cycle attack ads seemed rare out there. To be fair, I don't watch much TV out there, but when we travel from hunting spot to hunting spot, there wasn't much for attacks on the other candidate.

But, this year they caught up to the rest of us with a vengeance. Pretty much every ad was a negative ad and with good reason (I guess). It's been pretty well documented that negative ads work. Researchers have found that we humans remember negative things better than positive. Plus, when a politician  only talks about how bad the other guy is, it's one of the few times they can actually be honest.

On our way back this year, I heard the ultimate attack ad. I dare say the mother of all attack ads. It was a radio ad of the format of two everyday people talking back and forth about a candidate. You know the format. It sounds like two friends talking over coffee, or at the grocery, or at the break room table at work.

It went with one person saying how the candidate (the ad was attacking) supported one thing, then the other person saying the candidate was against one thing and how that will further hurt the economy. Then the first person said this candidate was aligned with another political figure and will only vote along party lines.

Then came the kicker that set it apart from the thousands of ads that followed the above format. The second person said "and I really don't like the way she is running her campaign." The first person replied "I know! Her campaign is a bunch of negative attack ads against (the other candidate). That's not how a campaign should be run."

That's right folks, an attack ad attacking the other candidates attack ads.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Survey: 40 Percent Of Americans Have $500 Or Less In Savings « CBS Philly

Survey: 40 Percent Of Americans Have $500 Or Less In Savings « CBS Philly

I AM THE 60%! You should be too.

There is a very good reason having a $1,000 emergency fund is "Baby Step 1" of Dave Ramsey's plan to financial peace. If you are one of those who whine "the rich get richer, while the poor get poorer" you need to stop whining and take control of your finances.

Being broke and whining it's somebody else's fault is easy, being responsible for yourself is not (at first).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Amtrak snack bars lost $84.5 million last year; $833 million in 10 years | WashingtonExaminer.com

Amtrak snack bars lost $84.5 million last year; $833 million in 10 years | WashingtonExaminer.com

So Amtrak lost over $84,000,000 last year selling... snacks? I wouldn't expect Amtrak to be profitable. Afterall, that's why there are no private companies that provide passenger rail travel anymore. It is not profitable. But to lose money selling snacks to a captive audience! Only the government can accomplish that.

So Amtrak lost over $84,000,000 last year selling snacks. The Post Office loses billions each year delivery the mail. Well, maybe our federal government will do better with healthcare.

Sign, Sign Everywhere A Flipping Yard Sign

I'm sick of them. They're everywhere. Political campaign yard signs. Sign, sign everywhere a flipping yard sign.

It must be close to election time, because they are starting to annoy me. One or two in a yard here in there is fine. But do you need to get a four foot by eight foot billboard for every candidate running for every available seat that's a member of your favorite political party?

A guy down the road from me just put them up yesterday. I know him well enough to know that, besides the Presidential Candidates, he couldn't pick one of the others out of a line up of two people. But he's got their campaign yard sign, in a neat row with the rest of them. I'm sure he stopped at the local party headquarters and said "one of each, please." At least he has them front and center on his property. Ever see those people who get two sets of signs and put them on the very edges of their land? Makes it look like maybe they're their neighbor's signs.

This summer in Wisconsin, we had a recall election. There were lot's of signs out for that too. I ran out to my township hall to vote during my lunchbreak. On my way back, I got stuck behind a little car driving very slow. The backend of the car was covered with political bumper stickers. When he drove by a yard with signs supporting who he supported, he honked the horn and gave a "thumbs up" out the window. When he drove by a yard with signs supporting who he didn't like, he honked the horn and waved the middle finger out the window. Really? That's how far you take your political interest? Slowly cruising the Northwestern Wisconsin countryside honking and waving at..... signs?

I don't dare put out a sign. For the most part I don't like any of them enough to have to mow around a sign in the first place. Plus then strangers may be honking their horns, bored high school kids will steal them for shits and giggles, or worst yet I'd have to turn down signs from other members of a political party. Just because I might like one enough to put a sign in my yard, I may not feel as strong about other members of that political party. "Sorry, I like you, but I don't like like you" would just feel weird to say to a politician.

I was going to put up a sign for one of the candidates for County Clerk. After all she is a friend of mine, very qualified for the job and a great all around person. But, I know the other lady too. She's also pretty nice and I wouldn't want to hurt her feelings.

Sad thing is, yard signs sometimes work too well. One of my neighbors is works for a town a few towns away. She grew up in that area and knows many people. Years ago she was at the cafe down the street from her office. There was recently an election. An old farmer walked in and sat with another old farmer to have some coffee. One farmer said to the other "I bet you're glad the Sheriff was re-elected." The other replied "Yeah, especially since I voted for the other guy." The first farmer said "Voted for the other guy? Why would you do that? I thought last week you said you were going to vote for the Sheriff?" The other farmer explained "I was planning on it, but my neighbor had his sign in his yard, and I'm not going to vote the same as THAT asshole!"  My neighbor swears this is a true story and I have no reason to doubt her.

It's too late now, but I think I might fill my yard with signs next year, and I mean fill it. Hundreds of them stretching from the road ditch to my front door, from the one edge of my yard to the other. But they won't be for the candidates for the two main parties, or candidates currently running for office, or for that matter candidates that represent my area. I would like to fill my yard with signs from independent or third party candidate from out of state and if possible, from election campaigns from the past. Just to throw people off.

If would you, please do me a favor. The next time you clean out your garage and find some old campaign signs, send them my way. I don't care if their for one of the main parties or a independent. I don't care if they're from someone running for President, Senate, Governor, City Council or School Board. The older and from farther away from me the better. I want my yard filled with names nobody in my area knows. I want the guy in the little bumper sticker covered car stopped and shrug his shoulders in utter confusion.

One last thing, can we please make an effort take the signs down after the election promptly? I will give the people in my area threes days to celebrate or mourn the election results. If the signs remain out Friday night, I'm putting out a no questions asked bounty for them. I'll get a start on my display for the next election.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Major Andrew Olmsted's Posthumous Thoughts

Below is a link to another blog I follow that is written by one of our servicemen in the Navy. He posts some interesting photos and thoughts. In the linked post, the blogger writes about a fellow member of the military and blogger, Major Andrew Olmsted, who lost his life in Iraq.


In case you can't open the link, Major Olmsted wrote a post that was to be published after his death. Here is  a very powerful excerpt from that post:

"Believe it or not, one of the things I will miss most is not being able to blog any longer. The ability to put my thoughts on (virtual) paper and put them where people can read and respond to them has been marvelous, even if most people who have read my writings haven’t agreed with them. If there is any hope for the long term success of democracy, it will be if people agree to listen to and try to understand their political opponents rather than simply seeking to crush them. While the blogosphere has its share of partisans, there are some awfully smart people making excellent arguments out there as well, and I know I have learned quite a bit since I began blogging."

In my opinion, Major Olmsted it hit out of the park with the above statement. If we don't stop shouting our opinion over the other person's, we will never find a way to fix our broken government, economy and way of life. The founders of this country did not agree with each other on everything. But, through compromise, they found a way to make something that worked. 

Now, sadly our country has gone off in a different direction. Well, actually two directions at once: the far left and the far right. Two directions at once, down the same road of the Decline of Mankind; because the United States is not alone on this commute.

What's that old saying about a house divided? 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Day I Realized The Human Race Is On The Decline

Hard to believe it's been a year already, but today is the one year anniversary of me giving up on all of us. Take a good look around, it will never be better than this ever again. In fact, I think mankind peaked maybe in the early or mid nineties. You know, back when people would make sure to be home (or if they were home stay up ) to watch Saturday Night Live because it was really funny. Television was great back then, along with most things.

Now look at the TV shows today. Sure there's a few good programs, but it's mostly mindless reality shows that are a rip of other reality shows. The movies are now all remakes of old movies, based on books, comic books, or are a sequel. Since they are out of original ideas of their own, Hollywood is relying on technology and other people's ideas. The current Hollywood movie formula is: popular book + computer generated special effects = movie.

Hollywood is just a sign of the decline of mankind. We are all too reliant on technology to survive and function. The high school kid, working the counter can't make change without the cash register telling them what to do. And if they gave you the wrong change, you'd probably wouldn't know the difference. I didn't know I had seven misspelled words up to this point until I hit the spell check button.

We can't think for ourselves, like we could in the past. If it wasn't for Google and Facebook, we couldn't research anything on our own. If it wasn't for the GPS, we couldn't find a motel on our road trips, or around the road construction on our daily commute.

I knew we as a whole were getting bad, but I didn't realized how bad until October 12th 2011. That was when I heard about the news story I linked to the bottom of this post. At first I thought it had to be a story from The Onion, but no, no it really happened.

A couple got lost in a corn maze and call 911 to be rescued. That alone isn't shocking these days, but what pushed me over was the fact that the police ACTUALLY RESCUED THEM!  If the couple couldn't figure out to just walk through the damn corn in one direction on their own, wouldn't a 911 dispatcher be able to tell them that? My guess is the Police "rescued" the morons out of fear of the morons having a lawyer in the contacts of their cell phone they used to call 911. No municipality wants to be sued for violating a moron's civil right of being saved from corn.

It's bad enough there isn't anything good to watch on TV anymore. It's bad enough we sue restaurants because we spill our hot coffee on our own laps. But now we call 911 because we can't find our way out of flipping standing corn, and the cops send in the hounds to find us! This was part of a Simpson episode years ago. Mankind is becoming Homer J. Simpson.

Couple Lost In Danvers Corn Maze Calls Police For Rescue « CBS Boston

Take a good look around, it will never be better than this ever again.

Friday, October 5, 2012

My "Go Sioux" Went Away

I'm a life long fan of the sport of hockey. I played it during my youth. I tried to ref and coach youth teams, but found I couldn't tolerate a lot of the parents. So now days I just watch. The most fun I have watching has been watching some of my younger cousins play. Of course I watch the pros too. Some of my favorite memories growing up were going down to the old Met Center to watch the Minnesota North Stars.

When I can't watch my family members play in person, my preferred way to get my hockey fix is watching college hockey. The games are a faster pace and played with more passion than at the NHL level. Especially now with the lock out threatening the season! 

For the last several years I've been attending the WCHA tournament, that is held to see which teams from that conference will advance to the NCAA tournament. It's held in St. Paul at the amazing Excel Energy Center. The home of the Minnesota Wild NHL team, an awesome place to watch a hockey game.

This is the last year this tournament will be held because the WCHA is, for the most part, disbanding. Wisconsin and Minnesota are leaving to join the new Big Ten Conference and the other hockey powerhouse schools Denver, Colorado College and North Dakota are joining a different conference as well. It is a shame, in my opinion, because this was one of the oldest conferences with some outstanding rivalries.

Another shame, also in my opinion, is what is happening to the University of North Dakota itself. North Dakota has been my favorite hockey team for many, many years. They are one of the oldest college teams around and one of the most successful too. 7 NCAA championships, 19 appearances in the NCAA frozen (final) four, 27 total NCAA Tournament appearances, 11 conference tournament championships and 15 total conference regular season championships. Besides their success, the main reason they're my favorite team is they play a very aggressive, fast place game. They're just a fun team to watch and they have a huge, loud, loyal and (for a college team) well behaved fan base. But in recent years, they've been a team under a lot of pressure from the NCAA itself.

The have not been under the scrutiny of the NCAA for cheating in the classroom or on the ice; not for recruitment violations, bad behavior of players or coaches. They have been pressured by the NCAA to change their name and logo. They are known as The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux and their logo is a profile of a Native Warrior. I personally find it a fitting tribute to the native people of the state and the logo an awesome image of a proud person, which I can not help but respect. But that is just me. Some find it offensive, or fear it may offend native people.

That is a touchy issue, but there is no doubt some Native Americans that do find it offensive. Although from what I've seen, most do not. In fact some view it as a nice tribute to their people. One tribe in North Dakota actually petitioned the school to KEEP the name and logo. I could babble on and on about both sides, but there is no point. The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux with their indian head logo are now The University of North Dakota with the words "North Dakota" across their jerseys.

So be it. In the days of being overly politically correct, out of fear of offending someone, this should be expected. With the Sioux name stripped from The University of North Dakota, some more school names need to be address as well. Of course the Florida Seminoles, University of Illinois Fighting Illini, and any other school with a name referring to Native Americans. We also need to change any school name with any other reference to race or ethnic heritage as well, such as Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

We shouldn't call anyone Pioneers, Settlers, or Cowboys either. After all, these are the people who treated the Native Americans so poorly in the first place. Vikings may offend people of Scandinavian heritage, and we can't have that don't-you-know. Pirates, Raiders, and Buccaneers may offend people with a criminal history in their family. Admirals, Bombers, Crusaders, General, Patriots, Warriors and Volunteers may promote or glorify war; and Angels, Demons, Devil or Saints might push someone's religious view on another. Barons, Dukes and Knights could even promote a class system and hurt the feelings of a kid whose parents are in the lower-upper-middle class. The name Lumberjacks might promote deforestation and Brewers make light of Alcoholism. Animal names, forget it! Aren't pitbulls misunderstood enough already? We can't go simply with colors either, gang related.

We are just going to have to go without nicknames or logos. The University of North Dakota with the words "North Dakota" across their jerseys is all we dare have anymore. Someone's feelings might get hurt and we make rules that prevent that kind of thing. I guess that works out the more I think about it. We don't keep score in youth sports anymore so nobody's feeling get hurt, so why should we bother naming the teams.

Go....team, go!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The OCD Dog, overmedication and being ourselves

Seems these day everybody has to diagnosed with something. It's almost like it's a requirement. A pill for everything and everything requires a pill, or maybe just extensive therapy. I could rant for a week about this. It really bothers me how dependent on medications we've become for things that could be dealt with by simply eating right, exercising and accepting the fact that life isn't perfect and it okay to cry. I'm sure there is a pill I could take so this wouldn't bother me anymore, but I'll go without, thank you.

There is a use for medications, all medications. But we've seem to simply choose to take a pill and that's it. Especially with mental health issues. People think "I'm depressed, I'll take a pill and it will all be better." Well, no it won't. If you have high blood pressure, you don't just take medication for it and continue on without any changes to your lifestyle. Well, at least you shouldn't. We should change your diet and exercise more, addressing the CAUSE of your high blood pressure, not just treat the high blood pressure.

But the deal is us humans don't like change (even for the better) and we're growing lazier by the day. Lazier with ourselves, lazier raising our kids. I remember hearing a parent say to me that her kid has ADHD and "has to take ritalin because he would rather go outside and play all day than sit down and do his home work." Stop the presses! An eight year old would rather play than do homework? Better get him some pills! Of course when you take him to visit the Doctor, ten minutes away you'll have to play that Sponge Bob Square Pants DVD to keep him quiet during the car ride there. (That's half the problem right there, DVD players in cars to keep the kids occupied, you really have to wonder why kids have the attention spans of flies?)

I am willing to bet that with in 5 years, there will be medication available from my vet to treat my dog's OCD. I'm serious. Both on the mental health meds for pets and that my dog has OCD. If I move is bed two feet, he panics when he sees it has moved and has to adjust it until it's just right. He will not walk through the kitchen in one direction. My parent's have two sets of steps going down to their living room. My dog will only go down one set of steps and will only go up the other.

It's weird, but that's my dog. He is a little different, like every dog is a little different, and has a distinct personality. Just like people. We are all a little different, we WANT to be a little different and stand out from the crowd, but freak out when we do stand out.

I truly believe a lot of our health problems, both physical and mental, can be controlled or eliminated with regular exercise, a better diet, a little discipline and slowing the pace down a few notches. Turn off the cell phone for an evening and take the kids for a walk. Accept the fact that your not perfect and never will be. Quit comparing yourself to others, who are actually just as messed as you on the inside. Surround yourself with people who care and stop caring about what those who don't care think.

No, you can't fix all problems by walking a little more and having a few less cheeseburger, but it will help. It's better than making excuses. "I know I should exercise more and live on a written budget, but I just don't have the time." So instead you stress out over money, your body goes south and your depressed over being broke, fat and you have high blood pressure. Not willing to make the time to live happier, healthier and longer? No problems, they got a pill for that.

Like I've said before and most likely will say again, we're getting soft.