Monday, February 28, 2011

Random Observations

1) Rumor had it the Oscar's were awarded last night. I've never watched an Oscar program in the 51 years I've been on this planet. I've just never been able to drum up any interest in this yearly event for some reason. No hate here or dissing, just no interest.

2) Fox Faux News is looking to do an exclusive report on the incivility of the people in Wisconsin protesting the controversial bill to essentially bust unions in Madison the last couple of weeks. It's gotten so out of hand that there hasn't been one arrest. But they have to pander to their uninformed and biased viewers I guess.

3) Has Charlie Sheen made Mel Gibson look like a nice guy after his incoherent ranting of the past week? Now he states that the only way he'll return to the show is if he gets a raise from 1.8 million dollars per episode to 3 million dollars. He figures its it owed to him due to what the show has put him through lately. Delusional antics at its best.

4) Back to the mess in Madison. Gov. Walker wants you to believe that taxpayers are on the hook for state employee pension plans. A blatant lie as the employees contribute 100% to this fund from their own wages. The media hasn't covered this aspect so it's no wonder some people are up in arms over this issue. Quite frankly, the unions have agreed to all wage and benefit cuts proposed by the Governor. What they don't want to lose is collective bargaining rights. Walker refuses to compromise as his ultimate goal is to bust unions to please big business interests and corporations. The pension facts are covered nicely here. And here.

5) Bernie Madoff refers to the U.S. government as a Ponzi scheme. Laughable on one hand. But then when you consider that Madoff is the master of Ponzi schemes perhaps he knows what he's talking about.

6) Taylor Swift seems like a sweet girl and genuinely a nice person. I can't honestly see the singing talent myself but then that may just be me. The one thing I've noticed over the past year, or so, is the number of guys she's been linked with. I'm thinking she's a little too dependent and needy in this area myself. Maybe someone needs to tell her there's nothing wrong with taking a break and being single isn't necessarily a bad thing. But then again thinking that I'm exceedingly happy as a single person doesn't necessarily equate to other people being happy single, even if only temporarily.

7) Gas prices have risen approximately 10% in the last two weeks. Economists have predominantly blamed this on the mess in Libya. I'm having a little trouble with the math on this one. Libya produces 1.8% of the world oil supply and Saudia Arabia has raised their output by 8% to pick up this 1.8% slack. Why the 10% increase in prices at the pump?

8) Did anyone else have a Hershey's candy bar for breakfast today? Didn't think so.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Random Crap

1) I've become obsessed with the weather lately. Every morning when I fire up the computer I check the weather and look for one thing. While most people look for the actual forecast and temperature setting first, that isn't what I'm focused on. What I've been looking at is the sunrise and sunset times and we've finally hit an important milestone. Why it's important to me isn't entirely logical, nor really explainable either.

We've crossed a thresh hold now that there is 11 hours (plus) between sunrise and sunset. Trust me when I say it's important and it makes me feel better. Yesterday disappointed me when I was anticipating getting to this all important milestone only to see we were one minute short. One lousy minute short. I cursed February 25th and it's shortcoming in this area.

2) Toddler speak isn't my forte. Yesterday was my granddaughter babysitting gig day. It's honestly one of the best days of the week for me. She's two-years-old now and is a lot of fun. For the most part she speaks very well and I understand pretty much everything she's saying. Except yesterday. This is what I kept hearing all afternoon yesterday:

"Pa Pa, I want cuckcold."

I never figured out what she wanted. My son got home from work and the first thing out of her mouth to him was "Daddy, I want cuckcold." He asked me if she'd had any chocolate milk that day. When I said no, because I didn't have a clue what she was asking for, he just laughed and got her a glass of "cuckcold milk."

3) Is Charlie Sheen as big a douchebag as I think he is? While I've never watched his sitcom I can only applaud the CBS decision to shut it down. Hopefully they'll move on without him and the other cast and production members of the crew don't suffer too much due to his over sized ego. I'd like to see him and Lindsay Lohan hook up just in the interest in saving two other people from disaster.

4) Glen Beck compared Reformed Judaism to Islamic Extremism, then apologized when he was informed that was blatantly a bad thing. (I say he was informed simply because he's not bright enough to figure out for himself how stupid his commentary was.)

But he'll be just fine as it's Fox Faux News, which really isn't into accurate reporting anyway, and the people who tune into his show are morons of the lowest form who eat up everything that he spews as their Gospel.

5) I think I'm going to go back to bed. Why I decided to wake up at a little after 3:00 am today is a bit baffling. I suspect it had something to do with item #1 though. That's how oddly obsessed I've been with the sunrise/sunset thing lately. But I have to work later today and 3 hours of sleep isn't going to cut it.

Night, night.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I've Reached A New Level Of Cool

I think it's time to take a break from blogging about the mess Gov. Walker is making here in Wisconsin. (It's probably only a temporary break though as Walker and his fundamentally wrong stance and union busting tactics have me incensed.)

Last night I was pleasantly surprised when both my kids showed up here. It's a rarity to get them together any more as one is in college and the other has a family of his own now. As we were visiting my son was uncharacteristically quiet. When he finally spoke it was to ask me what I was listening to as I had some music playing in the background. When I told him it was a playlist from YouTube both kids got off the sofa and decided to investigate what the "old man" listens to.

I like various forms of music but have especially embraced (some) symphonic rock as of late. My kids, who consider themselves up on most music trends were completely baffled and impressed with what I had on a particular playlist. They had also never heard of most of the groups/bands as well. This wan't particularly surprising to me as most of these groups were from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, etc. For some reason their music hasn't really caught on in the U.S., which I've found perplexing myself.


They spent almost an hour checking out my tunes and then I heard my daughter whisper to my son, "Did you ever think Dad was this cool?" His response was no. My response, "I heard that smart ass."

By the time the evening was over both had decided that they've been sadly missing out on some great music and the old man here had certainly surprised them. I think they were used to me playing music from the "80's", the era when I was young enough to be considered "cool." They also like music from that era as well, which makes them "cool" in my eyes.

(Although, disappointingly, they both consider rap a form of music with some merit. Sigh.)

The evening ended and I'm sure by now I've lost a measure of coolness in their eyes though. I mean seriously, who really considers a parent cool for any real length of time?

Below is a couple of examples of what I like and what they seemed to be impressed with as well. Give 'em a play and let me know what you guys think.

Now in all fairness both of my kids like and have heard of Within Temptation. But the group, Sirenia was totally off their radar, as well as a few others on my playlist. The "old man" here felt a little smug at their bafflement and amazement at my musical taste. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Real Koch Sucker

The following is a letter sent to Gov. Scott Walker concerning his phone call from a reporter posing as his biggest corporate supporter in Wisconsin. Just the fact that he was duped by a reporter is enough evidence that he's not the sharpest knife in drawer. The taped call did reveal his real intentions on simply trying to bust unions rather than the baloney he's been spewing about a budget deficit and controlling costs.

The unions have accepted all wage and benefit concessions he wants. He's just simply trying to eliminate collective bargaining with deceit and to please his "big business" partners in crime.

February 23, 2011

Governor Scott Walker
Wisconsin State Capitol

Dear Governor Walker,

I am informed that a tape recording has been released in which you apparently held an
extensive discussion with someone you believed to be your campaign supporter, David
Koch.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel states that the caller was actually a reporter,
pretending to be David Koch, and it has posted a transcript of the recording.  It appears
that you admit the call occurred, and have not contested the authenticity of transcript.
David Koch is the billionaire businessman who reportedly contributed thousands to your
campaign and who the media claims is a key source of funding for shadowy political
groups that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars attacking your political adversaries in
our state.

At a historic moment in our State’s history, brought on by your refusal to compromise
with elected officials regarding the elimination of worker’s rights, you still refuse to talk
with Democratic legislators.  However, you apparently have no problem taking a phone
call from “Mr. Koch” and to:
• Discuss your strategy to lay off public workers to seek partisan advantage to pass
your agenda;
• Discuss your plan to lure Democratic legislators to the Capitol on the pretext of
negotiation, but then state that you would never actually negotiate;
• Discuss your plan to use the pretext of negotiation to get a quorum for legislative
fiscal action that Republicans so far have not been able to do;
• Discuss that you considered the “planting” of paid  troublemakers into the
peaceful protests at our Capitol; and to
• Give your enthusiastic acceptance to an offer from  “Koch” to fly you out on a
vacation to show you a “good time” once you “crush  these bastards.”   Your
response was “That would be outstanding…”

Given that Koch’s businesses could reap vast rewards with the ‘no bid’ sale of the Wisconsin’s power plants that you propose in your budget repair bill, this response is severely troubling.

Governor Walker, this tape would make Richard Nixon blush.  If the recording and the
items discussed by you are indeed your plans, you have no business being in public office
in our State, and should resign.

Tim Carpenter
State Senator

Monday, February 21, 2011

You Can't Keep Stupid At Home

Yesterday was a terrible day weather wise. We alternated between snow, sleet, freezing drizzle, sleet, (which felt like hail beating the hell out of you), back to snow. All of the precipitation that fell upon us hit you from the side as the wind was quite brisk. (Think Forrest Gump as he explained how the rain fell in Vietnam in one scene.)

Naturally it was a work day for me. The mall I work at rarely shuts down for winter weather. Last December when we got nailed with a blizzard that dropped 19 inches of snow on us we had to actually take it upon ourselves to walk out and shut down our store. The mall management refused to shut down until most of the stores closed on their own and walked out, with the threat of being fined by the mall for shutting down without the mall's express permission.

It was laughable when they finally declared that the mall was closing then. The mall was already effectively closed as only five or six stores were actually open when mall management declared the mall was going to close.

While we didn't receive anywhere near the amount of snow yesterday as we did in the December storm, the roads were treacherous. Freezing rain, drizzle, and sleet are more hazardous than snow, as most people know. I also knew there wasn't a chance that the mall would close, or refuse to open for that matter. I wasn't scheduled to be at work until 11:30 am. The storm hit here at about 8:00 am. Knowing the mall wouldn't be closed I grabbed a quick shower and headed out to work. I figured I might as well get to work safely as I knew getting home from work was going to involve much suckage. (And it did.)

I did eat breakfast at the local buffet as it's only a couple of blocks from the mall. I still arrived at work 90 minutes before the mall opened. In the space of 2 hours we had 5 inches of snow on the ground, then the freezing rain, sleet, drizzle hit. It was just plain miserable.

I called the boss and told him to stay home as I was already there. Both he and his wife had to work yesterday and I knew they would have to drag their toddler out to daycare if they both went to work. I figured there was no sense in dragging a little kid out in this weather. Apparently there aren't too many people who think like this though.

We stayed open, naturally. We also did absolutely no business yesterday. Zip and Nada were the words yesterday. Intelligent people stayed off the roads yesterday. Who didn't stay off the roads were teenagers and a few young couples with small children and babies. As I stood at the front of the store I had to step away and back into the store whenever I saw a young couple with a baby stroller walking by. I was incensed at their stupidity for dragging out little babies and toddlers in this weather.

The one time I didn't step away this young couple with a baby in a stroller paused and struck up a conversation with me, as follows:

Young wife: Where is everyone? The mall is really dead today.
Me: Most intelligent people stay home in bad weather.
Young husband: What did you say?
Me: Most intelligent people stay home in this weather.
Young husband: Are you calling us stupid?
Me: Not yet.
Young wife: It's not that bad out, now it's only freezing rain.
Me: The jury's not out any more on your intelligence I see.
Young husband: What does that mean?
Me: What that means is that I just called you stupid.
Young wife: We're adults and can decide for ourselves when to stay home.
Me: You sure can.
Young husband: It's really none of your business and we don't need your opinion.
Me: You two stopped here and asked where is everybody. I told you why the mall is dead today. If you didn't want my opinion you shouldn't have asked for it in the first place. Personally I couldn't care less about you and your wife driving in any type of weather. Your little baby on the other hand has no choice. You're risking the safety of your baby driving in this weather.
Young husband: You're an asshole.
Me: Possibly, but I'm not stupid. Now move along.
Young husband: Fuck you!!
Me: Brilliant comeback, now move along and get to that more important shopping than the safety of your child activity.
Young husband: Asshole.
Me: We've already established that. Bye.

And off they went, in a tiff I might add. And how bad were the roads yesterday? My normal 15 to 20 minute trip home took 47 minutes. (Why yes, I did time it.) The snow plows had down an awesome job in removing the snow so the roads could ice up when the freezing rain, drizzle, sleet hit. Nerve racking drive as any type of braking caused you to slide all over.

Sadly, it's not over with yet as freezing drizzle/rain is still currently falling. The trip to work later this morning isn't going to be any fun either apparently.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Mass Of Ignorance

The last two days here have seen no school. It's not unusual to see a few days of school missed here during the winter months. Snow days are common and I'm betting the snow storm predicted for Sunday, into Monday, will be part of the reason there will be no school on Monday.

Why only part of the reason?

It's Wisconsin and teachers, along with other unions of government workers, are protesting the Labor Bill newly elected Gov. Scott Walker is trying to ram through stripping government workers of the majority of their collective bargaining rights.

Welcome to mini Cairo, Egypt in the Upper Midwest.

I'm not a fan of unions in general. I've been a member of a union in the steel industry in the past. I've also worked in supervision in the steel industry and have had to deal with unions from the "other side of the fence." There are pros and cons that I've weighed when thinking about unions.

Thousands of people have descended on Cairo Madison to protest this Bill. State democratic legislator's have fled the capital to avoid a vote and table this issue as the Republican controlled government apparently has the votes necessary to pass this Bill. (They just don't have enough control to vote on it as it takes twenty senators to do anything and they only have nineteen. The fourteen democratic senators who've fled have managed to stall voting on this Bill.)

It's a mess.

An unnecessary one.

Do unions have too much power? A better question to consider is why have employers surrendered so much power to unions over the years?

This event has gone national as far as the media coverage goes. As I've read through comments to various reports most of the people commenting, who oppose unions, are basing their opposition due to the fact that their own wages and benefits are less than unionized workers. That's not a logical argument to me quite frankly.

While I'm not a fan of unions I do believe they have the right to exist. This Bill isn't just about the wages and benefits aspect of unionization. This piece of legislation would end collective bargaining rights. Fundamentally that is wrong. It's also fundamentally wrong that Wisconsin isn't a "right to work" state. People should have the choice to opt out of belonging to a union as well.

What isn't being reported, or is being under reported, is that the unions are willing to sit down and discuss cuts in their benefits. The Republican controlled government in Wisconsin doesn't seem to be interested in that though. Their goal is to eradicate unions.

Personally I think legislation needs passed to make Wisconsin a right to work state. No one should be forced to be a member of a union. Unions also have the right to exist as well. Compromise and common sense on the parts of all involved is sadly lacking. The arguments people are using to point out how lazy and worthless union workers are, are laughable to me. I've worked in a non-union environment for the past ten years and I've seen my fair share of worthless workers parade through here. Being a union member isn't exclusive for that issue. While it may be true that unions may protect a worthless employee more so than a non-unionized work place, ultimately it's the employers fault for allowing this to happen.

The biggest issue here is the cost of health care, not actual wages. (I don't think there are too many people who feel teachers are overpaid.) I've seen this coming for several years. Health care costs have sky rocketed over the past ten years. Employers have carried the brunt of these costs and a lot of people are clueless how much those costs have increased.  It's an expensive cost of doing business and many businesses, and state governments, cannot maintain the cost and expect to survive.

Tax payers are up in arms over this issue to some extent. They also have a valid argument since ultimately they're the employer in this case. They can't be ignored either. (That's part of the reason this is such a mess.) Tax payers can't pass the costs of this on to consumers like other businesses can. The tax payer in this case is the consumer as well. Now that I think of it, as a tax payer and consumer, we're getting "double whammied" by the cost of health care. As a consumer we're also paying more for goods and services provided by businesses due to health care costs. I can guarantee you businesses aren't absorbing the rising cost of health care without raising their prices to maintain profit levels.

It's a complicated issue and placing 100% of the blame on unions is wrong and naive. It's a mass of ignorance on both sides of the issue and a mess with compromise and common sense suffering. In other words, it's the American way of late.

UPDATE: Just as an update the two major unions in WI are willing to accept the wage/benefit concessions but the Gov is unwilling to talk or negotiate with them. It's all about busting the unions, nothing more.  

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Want A "Do-Over" This Week

Car Problems? Check.

Computer problems? Check.

Work Problems? Check.

Monday started off as any other Monday for me. Wake up, eat some breakfast, shower, and head to work. The only problem is that my car apparently wanted the day off. Trudged back inside, called son the mechanic to make arrangements for car problem, then called taxi to ferry my ass to work that day. Relatively cheap repair as the shop where my son works gives healthy discounts to family members. Car tow, new starter, and new oil pan gasket replaced for less than $260.00. (Apparently small oil leak from oil pan shorted out starter.)

My daughter's car also felt it was time to rebel against her as well. She fried her clutch on Monday for the second time in the last year. This wasn't a complete surprise, but not one I saw coming quite this soon as we'd replaced her clutch last summer. The kid likes driving a stick, but driving a stick isn't her forte. Mom and Dad raided their respective "piggy banks" and shelled out about $4000.00 for a different car, with an automatic transmission to keep the kid mobile.

My computer has been dying a slow death. Not a huge surprise since it's over six-years-old and gets a lot of use. Talked to the "Geek Squad" at Best Buy and they summed up the problem in a few words. After doing some remedial math on repair costs versus a new computer cost a new desk top computer was purchased last night. Nothing fancy but another $525.00 down the drain. (Well not exactly $525.00 but who counts pennies?)

I worked the last couple of days with the new kid we recently hired. I've been pretty impressed with him honestly. He's pretty sharp and nothing like the "Worthless Co-Worker" he replaced. He informed me yesterday that his girlfriend dumped him the day before Valentine's day. I momentarily felt bad about this until he told me the reason for the dump. Apparently she doesn't want to move to the other side of the state with him for a new job he accepted. His last day is an undetermined day next week. The boss, who has been off the last two days, has yet to be informed. That will happen today I guess. I don't see him staying beyond this weekend because the new place that hired him wants him "immediately" and he's raring to go. Since I'm off today and tomorrow I'm guessing Saturday will actually be his last day.

So the hiring process commences again. Hopefully it won't take 3 months to get him replaced as it did with the "Worthless Co-Worker." I'm not holding my breath though as it always takes an ungodly amount of time to get people hired here. The one thing I do know is that the boss will be thrust into panic mode about this. March isn't a good month to be short handed for us as we do a couple of off-site sales events in addition to having a store to staff. Compounding this is his wife is pregnant and due in late March as well. He had planned to take one week of vacation when the baby arrived which probably isn't feasible now.

That's been my week so far, how's your week going?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Only Thing Missing Is Fish

Ice fishing yesterday comprised of 11 hours of time, 3 different locations, and a crappy photographer. True to his word my kid drove right up to the first spot of fishing. In the first spot we fished at we were sitting on top of 22 feet of water with the fish finder showing a ton of fish under us. Unfortunately none of them were hungry as we sat there for two hours with nothing to show but a few weak bites.

Naturally this wouldn't do and my son the fishing fanatic decided we needed to move to another location. He was in a fishing tournament the previous weekend and decided that that's where the fish were. He also assured me it was a spot we could drive right up to like this first spot we tried. So we packed up and headed out to that spot. Again the second spot showed a ton of fish under us and we were sitting on top of 11 feet of water. We caught a ton of fish in second spot. Not one keeper in the bunch though. I don't think I've ever caught so many fish at one time as we did there. Every "Bambi" in this lake was biting, but not one fish worth keeping. (Or taking a picture of.)

The crappy photographer (me) failed to take any pictures of our second stop of the day, which was a shame. This spot was like a small city with hundreds of vehicles and ice shanties set up.

My son decided after a few hours in the second spot another relocation was called for. He was genuinely flummoxed by the lack of sizable fish being caught. The first spot we went to was his favorite spot and had never let him down before. The second spot he had done well in the weekend before.

As he was mulling different spots to move to he recalled me telling him where I used to catch a lot of fish when I was a kid and he'd never been there before. I reluctantly agreed to try this spot as he'd been bugging me in the past to go there. My reluctance was related to a couple of factors. One being we were talking about a spot that I hadn't ice fished in forty years. Two being there was no easy access to this spot and no way possible to drive right up to this spot. In other words we were going to be hauling 250 pounds of equipment on a hefty hike to get there. Welcome to my nightmare folks.

We arrive there and he's in love with the spot. There's about a dozen people set up in this area. It's a big area and a lot of deep water ranging from 40 to 60 feet deep in places. He decided to drill several test holes to set up the fish finder for the best spot. I swear I drug that ice shanty for over a mile as he went from spot to spot looking for fish. He wasn't pleased with the test results and I finally had to put my foot down, before collapsing with exhaustion, to tell him we weren't going to catch any fish by simply drilling holes in the ice.

We were seeing fish, just not the appropriate number to please him. He took pity on me and we finally set up in what he deemed was an acceptable location. And yeah, we didn't catch a thing worth keeping once again. We finally packed up and got off the ice before dark. I was beat. Him, not so much. He decided he wasn't done fishing for the day and decided he was heading to the "dam" to catch fish. When he asked me if I wanted to go I politely declined stated he was nuts. He got out his cell phone and called a friend and they made plans to hook up for a night of fishing. 

A phone call from him later last night found him to be pretty happy. He was finally catching fish and wished I was there. I told him it wasn't the end of the world that we didn't do that well earlier in the day and maybe I was bad karma and all he really needed to do was to get rid of me to catch some fish worth keeping. He didn't quite buy into that so I imagine he's going to want to drag me out again in the future. Below are a few pictures, all from the first location we started out at.

Time to drill a hole

Truck sitting on top of 28 inches of ice.

Setting up the ice shanty.

Just about fully set up.

The kid in the shanty.

Fish (depth) finder to the left, heater in the center, my knee on the right.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What Happens When One Doesn't Want To Go That Extra Mile

I'm off today and up before 5:00 am. This is my first weekend day off since last October and most normal people would still be snoozing and dreaming about a Saturday filled with, well, more sleep for instance. Someone must have revoked my "normal people" status though. I've been kicked out of that particular club.

Now in all fairness I knew I was going to be getting up early today. I'm not wired for sleeping in late and my son, the ice fishing fanatic, wants my company on the ice today. You know, you can raise your children, get them out of the house on their own eventually, and they still want to make your life miserable on occasion.

Yesterday was my granddaughter babysitting day. I asked my daughter-in-law if they had big plans for the weekend and I knew I was trouble. She stated their plans were her and my granddaughter going to her folks on Saturday and my son and I were going fishing, which was news to me. Who'd have thought my normally scatter-brained son would remember the only time I stated I had this particular Saturday off was over a month ago?

I was less than thrilled with this news. Don't get me wrong, I like to fish. I even like my son. I'm just not fond of combining fishing with ice, unless it's ice in the cooler on a hot summer day to keep my diet Coke cold.

My daughter-in-law left for work and I spent the afternoon thinking about all the reasons I didn't want to go ice fishing today. Mostly centered around the fact that it's cold out and the "good fishing hole" is about a 3/4 mile walk hauling about 250 pounds of ice shanty and fishing equipment.

I mean seriously, there's a reason this blog is called "Just Plain Tired." And I'm not exactly a spring chicken any more either. My idea of a great day of fishing is backing the boat in the water and cruising to the fishing hole. This time of year I look like an Alaskan sled dog pulling shit behind me, huffing and puffing, because I smoke too much.

My son arrived home from work and I saw he was well prepared for today. He's got a bucket of minnows and a bag of fishing jigs. There was no talking him out of this nonsense.

I think I surprised him with no argument about going today. He was well prepared though. I'll have to give him that. He stated that he called his insurance company to double check his insurance coverage. My first thought was he thought it would be on his dime if I keeled over today and he wanted to make sure he didn't have to pay any hospital bills for kidnapping me today.

That wasn't quite it though, although me keeling over was on his mind. No, he called his car insurance agent to see if we drove out on the ice and went through said ice, if his insurance covered the cost of replacing his truck. Never mind we'd probably drown. Apparently his insurance company will replace the truck, whether we'd survive this type of mishap or not.

So keeling over has apparently been check mated. The cold has been tempered somewhat as well as it's supposed to be in the 30's as well today. (Much better than the -16F last month when we ventured out.)

I dunno. While not hauling 250 pounds of crap is definitely appealing I'm not sure I'm totally on board with falling through the ice and drowning. I better get off here and make sure my will is up-to-date. I may also have to scrounge around and find a couple of life preservers as well. There's no sense in drowning on a rare weekend day off I guess.

Maybe my next post will have pictures. I am currently charging the digital camera. That doesn't necessarily mean I'll remember to take it along today, but it'll be charged anyway.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Just Random Ridiculous Crap

1) The lure of plastic, as in a credit card, seems to know no bounds to some people. First Premier Bank offers a credit card to people with less than stellar credit. It's a credit card with a typical credit limit set at $300.00 and an interest rate of 79.9%. There's also fees of $135.00 per year to own the card as well. The fees include $45.00 to open the account, an annual fee of $30.00 the first year, and a monthly fee of $6.25 for the pleasure of having this card. (The annual fee goes up the second year.)

Oddly enough (to me at least) this card has proven very popular to people. The CEO of First Premier Bank said while the card was popular the majority of people who had one ran it up to the credit limit, then defaulted on it. (Big surprise there, huh?)  A person can have several opinions or thoughts about this I guess. Two come to mind here. One being, how desperate do you have to be to want a credit card with an interest rate of 79.9%? The other thought is that a large default rate isn't surprising to me. I would think most people who would accept a card with this interest rate and fees probably have little to no intention of paying their bill. I can't feel sorry for the bank though. I'm sure the minority who do actually pay on time still allow this bank to swing a profit.

2) In regard to my last post -- the silly little mall marketing girl was terminated. (Almost forgot about that.)

3)  The last few days of work have been strange. I've had random high school and college aged girls who work in the mall randomly greet me when they see me at work. Some of the girls I know, some I don't. The weird part of the greeting is the word "Dad" they've thrown into their "hi's" and "hello's." All I get is a big smile and no explanation from them when I ask them why the "Dad" is thrown in there.

I ate lunch with Jackie today and when I told her about this she about died with laughter, then refused to tell me what the hell was going on until we were about done eating. A few years ago the girls who worked in the mall decided to take a poll about who was the creepiest guy who worked in the mall. Over the years this poll has taken on quite a new life and now they vote using several categories describing guys in the mall. Some flattering, some not so much as far as the categories goes.

I won the home away from home "Dad" award for some reason. My boss won the "Flirt" award. The "Creep" award was won by the guy who I've always referred to as "ex-convict" who works for the Gold Buyer's kiosk. He's a combination thug, wannabe gang banger I've marveled at keeping his job. Some of the other categories were "Old Pervert", "Hot Guy", "Geek", etc....

When I asked Jackie how she voted she said she didn't get to vote. Apparently this is confined to the younger generation. She just happened to have a couple of college girls working for her this year in her store and knew about the results because of this. She did say had she been able to vote the proper category for me was not listed that she'd use. Apparently "Pain In The Ass" wasn't a category. Given our history, I can't argue with that one I guess.

Silly girls anyway..... and there better not be any child support involved in this or I'm going to ask for a recount or new election. Of course with my luck, if I were to complain I'd probably get recast as the "Old Pervert." Maybe I'll just grin and bear it for now.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Some People Can't Just Leave Things Well Enough Alone

It's no secret that the mall marketing bitch person and I don't get along very well at all. I know I posted about a run-in she and I had previously. Perplexing to me is that post is nowhere to be found now to reference to. I don't know if I somehow deleted it or if Blogger somehow ate it.

As a recap she decided that in addition to her marketing duties for the mall she's also in charge of individual store operations as well. As we were shorthanded throughout the Christmas shopping season there were several 12-14 hour work days worked alone in our store. She decided breaks weren't allowed and much to her dismay I didn't bow down to her self delusional authority in this area. She pushed the issue and ended up getting in some hot water when she ran to the mall manager to complain about me. (She forgot there were witnesses to our encounter in December and her version of the confrontation didn't mesh well with mine, nor with the people who witnessed it.)

This thing just hasn't died out yet. In an effort to save face she has told anyone who actually listens to her, her version of the encounter and how she "put me in my place." Now for the most part the people she's told this story to is the maintenance and janitorial staff and other store staff at the opposite end of the mall from our store location. (Her version wouldn't fly at our end of the mall, too many witnesses saw the encounter.)

The mall is an interesting place to work and crap like this just keeps getting recycled. Every few days since we had this run-in someone stops into the store to let me know how her version of the story is evolving. The latest version is that she holds my job in her hands and I'm at her mercy to keep my job. She may rival the ex-Worthless Co-Worker in the stupidity department. I'll say it's been an amusing side show over the last couple of months.

No one actually believes her version of the story as most of the people she talks to know me as well, if not better, than they know her. Contrary to how I may appear in here at times with work issues I'm well liked and even tempered for the most part. I just simply don't tolerate bullshit.

Very few people like this girl in the mall. She's always on some weird power trip and used to getting her way. In reality she's at best inadequate at her job. She gets away with that for one reason only. She's 25-years-old and "hot." Every guy that works in the mall wants to see her. She reduces most of them into drooling babbling idiots. While most of them acknowledge she's a snobby bitch, her looks trump this to many of them. They just simply want to ogle when she walks by.

I'm a few years beyond the drooling and babbling stage when it comes to a pretty face. She's just simply an insecure, self entitled bitch who relies on her looks to get her by in life. Sadly, in many cases this works.

This amusing sideshow moved center stage yesterday. The mall manager stopped into our store to talk about "a problem" that needs resolved. Apparently this girl really holds a grudge. She informed the mall manager that I somehow interfere with her doing her job and that I intimidate and harass her whenever she comes to our end of the mall.

Oddly enough I've only seen this girl one time since we had our little run-in last December. That one time was at least a month ago when I decided to punish myself and go to the other end of the mall to the food court to eat lunch one day. She was heading in my direction and when she saw me approaching her she abruptly turned around and scurried back to her office to avoid me. I haven't seen her at our end of the mall in two months.

I informed the mall manager of this and told him maybe he should check with the other stores at our end of the mall if he wanted to verify this. I told him she's been sorely missed, by a lot of the guys who work at this end of the mall, because they miss seeing "eye candy." Her absence at this end of the mall hasn't gone unnoticed to say the least. Since he's been out of the loop I also informed him of her stories she's told about this incident that occurred in December and that the real reason she hasn't ventured to our end of the mall is that she knows most people are on to her bullshit and she's embarrassed to be seen down here.

He went off to canvas the other stores to verify her absence, then stopped back into the store to inform me he no longer had a problem with me. He had another problem to deal with now as apparently no one recalls seeing her in quite some time at this end of the mall. He also talked to a couple of janitors who told him about her bragging about trying to get me fired as well.

We talked for a few more minutes and the gist of the conversation was that I'll probably not be seeing her again in the mall, at least as someone who's employed by the mall. I was decent enough to tell him that firing her wasn't absolutely necessary if he could just simply tell her to keep her trap shut, do her job, and that I couldn't care less if she comes to this end of the mall because she means nothing to me and has no affect on me. I don't interact with people who I dislike unless they choose to speak to me first. Intimidating or harassing petulant little girls isn't my style.

I don't believe he thinks she's worth the trouble to keep employed though. We'll see what happens.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Queen Of Sound Bites, Bites Again

Sarah Palin bugs me. Not for the reason most people would think though. Unlike most people who she bugs I don't actually consider her stupid. She's definitely not smart enough to lead a nation, but she's not stupid.

What bugs me is that she's smart enough to play off the stupidity of the people who think she's capable of running a nation. She has mastered the art of "sound bites." She can make a simple statement and rile up a following.

What she lacks is answers and solutions.

Anyone can stand in front of a microphone and point out problems. Anyone can point at someone else and play the blame game. Anyone can say, especially after the fact, that they would do something different. I've never seen her list a problem with a detailed plan of action and solution to fix the problem. Of course this doesn't make her much different than the majority of politicians. She's just louder than most.

I honestly believe she's even come to the realization that she's not a viable candidate to become president. Her actions and words are simply a means to keep the money train she's rolling along in to keep paying off. She's banking some serious coin being loud, abrasive, and the queen of sound bites.

Her latest soapbox interview on a Christian Broadcasting Network was released on Saturday. A couple of her statements make little sense, but definitely appeal to her base of followers who cannot think for themselves.

1) She stated that the Obama administration must tell the American people what it knows about who will be Egypt's new leader.

I hate to break it to you Sarah, but who really knows what's going to happen over there? It's a clusterfuck I'd imagine with many factions vying for power over there. I've read several comments made to this news report and it's unbelievable the conclusions her followers have come up with "because they believe Obama is hiding something vital from the American public" about this mess in Egypt. I'm sure she considers this "mission accomplished." I wonder how many politicians from other countries were demanding of their own governments to spill the beans who was going to be our next president prior to the 2008 election?

2) She also stated the U.S. needs to find out who is behind all the turmoil in Egypt and that we should not stand for a government run by the Muslim Brotherhood.

I think it's rather evident who's behind the turmoil. Ultimately it's the current Egyptian government, or rather what's left of it, responsible for the turmoil. You have an oppressed people rising up wanting a better life because of this. While I do agree a government with the Muslim Brotherhood is a concern, and unwanted, who really knows what will happen. I'd also imagine there are people in other countries who didn't like to "stand for a government" led by Obama, nor would some like her as a leader either. Basically it's none of our business who's running a different country when you boil it down. If you think back over the foreign governments we've backed in the past our track record is less than stellar. There was a time we backed Saddam in Iraq and we all know how well that worked out.

3) Lastly, she stated that the U.S. must say who we stand with, and we don't have all that information yet.

How much thought went into that incoherent sentence Sarah? It's not hard to state who we should stand with. We should support an Egyptian government who serves it's nation the best. One who truly takes into account the will of the people, and serves them. It's not rocket science. What she didn't state was what she'd do if a government was placed into power in Egypt that she didn't approve of. What actions would she take, and where would it end? There are several countries across the globe which aren't in America's favor.

She has nothing concrete to offer, unless of course you think sound bites and innuendo are the answers we need. The one thing she does have all figured out is that this type of crap keeps the money rolling in though. We need some intelligence to step forward instead of raw emotional sound bites which mean nothing. She isn't the answer. She's just one of many political hacks running off at the mouth with meaningless rhetoric which stirs up an emotional response from people who seem to think, say, less than clearly.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Odds and Ends

Yesterday I babysat my two-year-old granddaughter. Nothing surprising there because I try to do this one time a week. My son works 7:00 - 4:00 shift and my daughter-in-law works 1:00 - 10:00 shift, normally. I usually watch the kid from 12:00 - 5:00. Yesterday was different though. My daughter-in-law was scheduled 8:00 to 5:00 for some type of training so the babysitting gig was a longer day.

I knew one thing was going to happen to displease me yesterday, and I suspected one other thing to displease my daughter-in-law. I was right on both counts.

We'll start with what I suspected first. I called my son on Thursday night to let him know I was 'illen. I figured I'd give them the option to take the granddaughter to their regular day care provider if they didn't want a sickly grandparent around the kid. I told him I didn't care myself and that I could feel miserable at home or at their place equally. The granddaughter is easy to watch, so me being sick wouldn't be a hardship.

When the daughter-in-law answered the door yesterday morning to see me standing there I knew someone was in trouble. Not me, but my son. Her first words were, "Hi... say you don't look so good." Her second question was, "How long have you been standing out here?" The next thing she uttered was, "Are you sick?"

My answers were thanks, not too long, and yes, didn't Jon tell you? My daughter-in-law is a sweet girl. She's easy going, even tempered, and sensible. Yesterday morning I'd have to add a tad upset in the mix though. Apparently my son failed to inform her of my phone call from the day before giving them the option to avoid a sick grandparent showing up to infect them with a winter cold. I'm pretty sure my son was going to get his ass chewed out last night when she got home from work.

I have to admit I felt miserable yesterday. Hell I'm not feeling too chipper today, but I still plan on going to work to spread the lack of chipper to my boss and co-worker. I'm thoughtful like that, naturally. After all why confine the "it's better to give, than receive" nonsense only to Christmas, right?

Now on to my displeasure.

My daughter-in-law isn't a morning person. She's still sweet and easy going. What I mean is that this girl is a sleeper. She likes to sleep in and getting up at what I guess is 6:30 in the morning isn't what she wants to do. I knew she wasn't going to get up any earlier than absolutely necessary to get to work in time yesterday. This doesn't mesh well with how I approach things. I'm an early person who hates to be late, so I give myself plenty of time to get to where I'm going. I tried to temper this yesterday though.

Apparently not enough tempering on my part. I still stood outside their door, in the cold, for almost 10 minutes because when she's in the bathroom, which apparently also serves as a sound proof room, she hears nothing. I'm pretty sure I hid my displeasure well, despite the onset of frostbite. I also had to reason with myself that my car was a warm haven that I could have retreated to as well to wait for the door opening ceremony. My fault for being either too stupid or lazy to do this.

I muddled through the day, tried not to breathe on the granddaughter, and fled for home soon after my son got home from work. The one thing I didn't do was give my son a heads up to his wife's displeasure with him. I dunno, maybe I was feeling a little mean spirited due to this damn cold. The other possibility is why spoil a surprise?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

This Is Certainly Depressing

I must be a glutton for punishment. Apparently a massive head cold, lack of sleep, and too many hours at work isn't depressing enough for me. For some reason I decided to ponder the amount of taxes we actually pay now-a-days and the loss of buying power the average American has versus the "good old days."

I've spent hours surfing and googling this crap. I can certainly say it hasn't been a home remedy for this damn cold though. I'm not even going to claim how accurate the figures are that I'm going to throw around in here.  (Naturally, we all know if it's on the "net" it has to be 100% accurate though, right? Right?)

Things have certainly changed over the last 50 years. (That's about the limit of what I've loosely termed researched.) Back in 1960 approximately 30% of the average American's income went to pay taxes on the federal, state, and local level.

Now, (with now being 2009 as the latest figures I found available) approximately 54%-57% of the average American wages now go to taxes. The income figures ranged from $34,000 to $53,000 for the average American worker in this (now) time period. I'm sure some of these figures and numbers can be disputed but the one thing that is clear to me is we're not talking about wealthy people here.

Naturally taxes dollars are going to rise as wages rise. Income in 1960 versus now would dictate that. What's perplexing is that the percentage of what we pay in taxes has almost doubled in approximately 50 years. (That's if you believe the numbers bandied about through several sources I ran into on the net.)

Taxes are also going to rise as the size of government, from local to federal, get bigger as well. I'm also certain the government provides more services now than it did 50 years ago as well. The one thing I question is are we better off now with the taxes we pay than back in 1960? Has bigger government and the services it provides now versus 1960 worth the tax "investment" average American taxpayers shoulder?

Where does this stop? If these figures are even somewhat accurate what percentage of the average Americans income will we be paying for taxes in 25 years, or 50 years from now? I can't fathom this percentage rise as being sustainable for future generations.

It's mind boggling the number of ways tax revenue is collected that the average person doesn't think about. Ultimately all taxes fall on individuals. When the government raises taxes on corporations and businesses it falls on individual tax payers. Corporations are in the business of making money. Whatever they produce is just simply a sideline activity to making a profit. When taxed more, a business raises prices on their services or products, to maintain profit levels. They themselves aren't really bearing the (full) brunt of any tax increases as this eventually gets passed on to the consumer. (And rightly so, because if they were to bear the full cost of tax increases they'd eventually be out of business I'd suspect.)

It could also be argued that a business doesn't always pass on the cost of a tax increase to the consumer. They may also cut back on services or their workforce to cover the expense of rising tax rates. These practices still affect individual taxpayers though. A reduced work force just spreads the tax burden on the fewer employed consumers in this case. As an individual taxpayer you simply can't win ultimately. You shoulder the tax burden.

This post isn't a rant on taxes. Taxes are a necessary evil. I just wish the government had the same mindset that the average American household has. There's a limit on what a household can spend. An individual cannot simply say, "Hey, I'm out of money, give me more to spend", like the government can. (Although this current, or last recession, we experienced can be partly blamed on individuals not living within their means.) Individuals don't have the recourse the government has when they blow through their "household" budgets. As an individual we can't dip into the well for more money like the government can, and does.

Unfortunately we're the well the government dips into for not living within their means. It's simply not sustainable for the future growth of our country and citizens should the percentage of tax dollars continue to rise as they have over the past 50 years. (According to the data I've seen.)

I think I need to go back to bed.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bow-legged Shuffle And A Missed Ride

Kids of every generation wear clothes that befuddle us old folks. Weirdly dyed hair, piercing of body parts not meant to be pierced occur, tattoos that are a bit much, and other oddities. For the most part I just shake my head in amusement quite frankly.

(Although apparently I'm not always amused. I remember my son coming home one night about 8 years ago when he was nineteen with blue hair. I do recall not saying anything though. As he walked into the living room and glanced over at me I apparently didn't hide my dismay very well. He also misinterpreted my look of dismay as one of anger because his first words were, "Dad, don't worry, it washes right out and I'm going to wash it out right now." I never uttered a word in response. I can say I think back on that night with amusement now though.)

There is one fad, or style, if you will, that seems to defy running its course though. (The use of the term style is used loosely here. The term running plays a role here though.) That's the wearing of pants hanging down somewhere between the bottom half of one's ass and one's knees. 

It seems like the first time I saw young guys running around with their pants hanging off their asses was about 10 years ago. I remember thinking how ridiculous this latest "fad" or "style" was and that it couldn't last long. Apparently it has endured though because young guys still run around wanting to show us their boxers, or lack thereof of undergarments.

Watching them try to walk a straight line amuses me. They all invariably have to wear a belt cinched tightly to keep the pants somewhat held above their knees and can't actually walk placing their feet directly in front of them. Their feet have to shuffle forward, placed about a foot to the outside of their shoulders, to keep their pants from falling down around their ankles. Trying to run had to be hilarious, but until Sunday I hadn't seen that feat attempted.

I was standing outside Sunday at work taking a smoke break. The mall exit I do this by also serves as the bus stop exit. As I was standing out there the city bus was there and it was the last bus of the day coming/leaving the mall. As the bus started to pull away a young guy burst out of the mall and started running after the bus. At first I thought there was something wrong with the kid and he had some kind of disability by the way he was running. His legs were splayed way out to the right and left of him as he "shuffled" after the bus. His pants were losing altitude as the bus faded from my view, as well as his view. He finally gave up the chase, with his pants now located below his knees. 

I wasn't laughing just yet though. Plenty of other people were though. He then started to shuffle back to the mall trying to pull his pants back up. This effort caused me to laugh. He kept yanking at them and they wouldn't come up over his knee area. Apparently the belt was cinched so tight he had to stop and release the belt buckle, then the pants nose dived around his ankles, with him then holding the belt in his hand as it slipped out of the belt loops in his pants completely. I had tears running down my face as he stood there with his pants down around his ankles and a belt dangling in one hand.

As he commenced his walk of shame shuffle back to the mall entrance I noticed he was a tad upset. Missing the last bus I surmised could do that I thought. Compounding that with the fact that I was still laughing encouraged him to threaten me with an "ass kicking" as well as he shuffled up to the mall entrance. Stupid kid. All this did was to get me laughing much harder at him. When I informed him threats from a kid who couldn't keep his pants up weren't to be taken seriously he muttered a few curse words at me and went back into the mall.

Gee, I sure hope he found a ride home.