Category Archives: Men

Where’s Binh?

I was in DC the first part of the week getting “connected.”  Most naval engineering concepts and solutions come out of Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington.  It was eye opening to see where all those folks worked and hear about the issues they deal with.  Contrary what one might think, there are a great deal of very talented people working very hard there.

Just before heading to DC, the family met up with some close friends and hit the outlet malls.  Our friends have a daughter close in age to our kids.  Usually the dads would watch the kids while moms hit the girly stores and vice versa.  Well, we were in Old Navy and it was my time to watch the kids and my heart sank!  Were did Binh go?  I started to go into search and rescue mode, performing an expanding square but initially did not see him.  However, I did see a group of kids near the changing room so I moved in that direction…  Ahh… Not only was I happy to see Binh but I was happy to see what he was doing…  hangin with the ladies!

binh_n_ladies At the end of the day we all had good fun.  Did manage to get some good video so I will post a Youtube Tuesday next week.


A Child’s Honesty and Comedy

Ava has developed a pretty good command of the English language and can articulate what she means most of the time.  At the same time, she also has started to make judgements about her environment.  This combination has resulted in what I might call “absolute honesty.”  I learned in a comical way that child-like honesty can be a two edged sword. 

Ava said that she needed to potty so she and I made the trip to the kid’s bathroom (“the monkey bathroom” ).  I popped her up on the potty and began to wait with her.  She began to push on my nose and rather hard.  It felt like she was trying to push it back into my face.  Finally I said, “Ava, what are you doing?”  She got a serious look and said “I want you to be pretty!”  But hey, at least I honestly know how she feels about dad’s honker.

ava_a_emailLast night Ava made us laugh again.  Just before leaving work I checked my favorite web page and noticed that the Dow had dropped another 250 points or so.  I came home and Char had dinner ready so the family was all seated at the table.  Just after we started eating I mentioned the fact that the Dow had dropped again.  And Ava responded “drop it like its hot daddy!”  I’m not sure if she meant it was time to drop our mutual funds like they were hot or if she simply was making a joke.  Those that know us well know that she is familiar with a Snoop Dogg song by a similar name.  Does the fact that my daughter knows a song by Snoop make me a bad father?  Regardless, I still need a nose job.

Busy Week

The military requires anyone who rides a motorcycle to attend a rider safety course.  I have been riding off and on for about 20 years, msfprogressing from moped to crotch rocket.  The military has had a problem with soldiers and sailors coming back from deployments to Iraq and Afganistan with extra cash, buying “high adrenalin” toys, and getting hurt.  A link to the required courses can be found here.  Needless to say, I had to attend and did not expect to get much out of it.  It was actually very good.  The instructor was a guy who lived and breathed motorcycles.  He owned nine bikes and could speak intelligently about off-road, street and sport bike riding.  While doing tight figure eights in a parking lot may not be the best indicator of how well one will do on the road, I don’t think a person could pass this course if they could not ride.  It was fairly aggressive.

Another more pleasant part of the week was the arrival of my in-laws.  I have had a great relationship with my in-laws from day one, with the exception of the day I asked Char’s dad for his permission to marry Char… He actually initially said NO!  That is a funny story for another time.  We celebrated Jan’s birthday and had a good time hanging out.  Charles and I played wii baseball for a couple of hours.  Charlie learned how to throw the fancy pitches and got his timing down.  What a slugger.  It was sad to see them go but we will be back down their way in a couple of months.

tuxThe last big thing was that one of the ships at the yard passed a major milestone, the ability for the new crew to operate main engines and generators.  Northrop Grumman Ship Systems and TRUXTUN’s crew had equal parts in the achievement.  The company crafted the material condition of the engineering spaces to meet the needs of the crew and the crew operated the ship systems safely and in accordance with Navy procedure.  Not an easy task when one considers that both teams essentially started from scratch.

Southern Living

Char and I are from the South so you wouldn’t think there would be much that takes us by surprise.  However, there are a couple of things that still make me go, “hmm?”  I take the back roads to and from work so I get a chance to see what’s off the beaten path.  First question, why is the single wide mobile home still so popular?  If you have ever been in a single wide, you know that it would be a unique living.  Especially when you add a couple of dogs and kids.  I might have figured it out coming home one day when I saw a good ole boy pulling one behind an F350.  It’s all about doing it yourself I guess.

The second thing that is interesting is the decor of the garage (this is clearly for those who have moved up from the manufactured home).  Every southern garage has a theme, whether it be NASCAR, college football, or professional football.  You know who the man roots for if you have seen his garage.  Nearly every garage has both a refrigerator and deep freeze.  The refer is usually for the beer (Miller Lite for some reason) and the deep freeze is for the deer meat. 

The last thing that is in the garage but usually not noticed until it’s on the road are the fake testicles hanging from the monster_nutzrear bumper or trailer hitch or rear differential of many 4X4 pickups.  I might see 10 – 12 sets of truck testicles on my way to and from work.  Some are larger than others and made with a variety of materials.  My favorite are the stainless steal balls hanging from the differential.  I mean that guy had to try hard to get those things up there and when he hits a bump they spark a little.


The news regarding the proposed stimulus plan is depressing.  The president has said: 

” failure to act on an economic recovery package could plunge the nation into a long-lasting recession… if we don’t move swiftly to put this plan in motion, our economic crisis could become a national catastrophe.  Millions of Americans will lose their jobs, their homes, and their health care.  Millions more will have to put their dreams on hold.. [it would be] inexcusable and irresponsible to delay this economic recovery legislation..  The bill before Congress isn’t perfect, but it is absolutely necessary…”

So let me see if I got this right, The federal government is choosing to spend my children’s money on pork to solve a perceived problem.  The money has to be spent now!  We don’t have time to debate the fundamentals of what the money is to be spent on or how it will be spent or look at long term effects.  We are told a select group of government hired economist have shown, using models allegedly adapted to our current situation, that we are headed for a great depression if we don’t act and act big.     

Does anyone besides me see the massive problems with this string of underlying assumptions?  Lets look at the first assumption in this chain.  They have assumed that they are the only ones capable of solving this problem.  The current package is the equivalent of giving just shy of $3000 to everyone in the country.  Why not do that?  At this point I would rather give$3000 to some not paying taxes in stead having a group of politicians come up with a nonpartisan spending package.  A package that includes giving $1B to CDBG,which would directly flow to ACORN.  Or give $4B to Rezko like slum lords for renovations.  After the President’s failed experience in Chicago, I am surprised to see stuff like this in this stimulus package.  I don’t understand why no one has a problem with this unfocused redistribution of wealth.  Just give us our money back!  So what if we pay off credit cards with it, half of us will become more comfortable buying that new car or HDTV.  The other half will actually pump it back into the economy.  It looks to me like the President wants to use this crisis to pump money back to all those that helped him get elected.

The second assumption is that we don’t have time to debate the fundamentals.  I hear Obama stomp his feet and imply that because he won the election he has an referendum to do as he pleases when he pleases.  I guess this includes picking and choosing who he listens to.  Have you noticed that the actual group of “sky is falling” economist are never named.  The model they are using is never mentioned nor the assumptions for their predictions.  I had a great visiting professor in a Sloan course named Dr. Ralph Katz .  He said and I have always found it to be true, “If there is one thing you know absolutely for sure, its that a prediction or estimate will be wrong.  How wrong is a function of the knowledge and competence of the estimator.”  Well I have a great deal of uncertainty given that it appears to me that the administration has failed show “transparency” here.  It also does not help that the bailout funds, yeah remember those, have been absurdly mismanaged.  The government doesn’t know what nearly half that money is being used for.  It also does not help that the congressional budgeting office (CBO) has said that a such an unfocused stimulus (spending)  package will actually hurt the economy .  Why are we in such a rush.  I feel like someone is trying to sell me a $800B+ used car.  What’s an extra two weeks to sort things out?  Any bells going off out there?

The third and perhaps most important assumption and error with President Obama’s rhetoric regarding the stimulus package is that he thinks “…a stimulus bill, is a spending bill.  What do you think a stimulus is?”  What an ignorant statement!  You don’t stimulate the economy by moving money around, which is essentially what this bill does.  Stimulus implies that by spending, or better yet investing, a higher economic output is achieved.  I know of no example of this but imagine that government money could be used as a catalyst to foster private investment and thus inspiring higher economic output.

We are having a horrible bill RAMMED down our throats by a bunch of political rookies.  If you don’t know what is in this stimulus plan then you are not fulfilling your patriotic duty to stay educated.  cIn the first three weeks all I have seen from the administration is disarray.  They call press briefings and are late, they nominate tax cheats and lobbyist for cabinet positions and recant campaign promises of transparency.  Well America you asked for change, now you got it.  Open wide and get ready to eat whatever Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the administration are serving.  Oh yea, and keep a journal so you can explain to your children why they must endure the same experience.  Wouldn’t this be considered taxation without representation… that’s another post.  The only way I can stay sane is to think that if enough people get up off their mental couches and look at this, we can assist our rookie politicians.  Or are there just that many stupid, brainwashed, lazy, or subsidized people out there.

Country Boys Can Survive

Ava routinely instructs us on what music to play while in the car.  Some of her request would raise eye brows and her latest is no different.  I made a CD about 10 years ago with a couple of Hank Williams Jr. songs on it.   Like other CDs we burned off Napster, they were unlabeled and got mixed together with the other favorites.  The CD with Hank got moved into the car and arbitrarily played.  Now, about 50% of the time we get a request for “Jr.”  Char and I wonder if she thinks Jr. is the same Junior on Veggie Tales.  Needless to say we have been listening to Country boy can Survive fairly frequently.  Considering the subject of the song and the context of our world today (Stock market down, etc.) got Char and I talking.  You know, if the world really started falling apart, it would be the country boys  that survived not the intellectual, politician, stock broker, sports star, college professor, actor, singer, music writer, or celebrity.  Don’t you find it funny that the majority of the people the county admires are so dependent and would be the first to starve if civilization failed.  My grandparents and parents for that matter all had gardens at one point or another.  My grandfather had a great relationship with 3 or 4 of his neighbors.  Each planted a garden and each focused on a group of vegetables.  My grandfathers was corn, green beans, squash and Potatoes.  The 3 to 4 would get together 4 times a year around the seasonal harvest times and trade / share.  Everyone ended up having a nice variety of produce for the year.  Don’t you find it interesting that many look down on country folks and think of them as backwards when in all actuality they are the only people that are self sufficient in this country.   

Dads and Christmas

Do you ever think back to your best Christmas memories and recall what made them so special?  My mother’s home-made candy was pretty high on the list along with Christmas morning.  While we may not have had much through the year, my parents rarely skimped on Christmas presents.  Now that Ava is at the age where she is starting to understand the idea of Christmas (both Christ birth and Santa), it is important to step up to the plate and christmas_dec_31do the dad stuff. 

We absolutely had to get a tree this year.  We have been using a tree Char’s parents gave us for the last 5 years.  We have higher ceilings so we got a tall pre-lit tree.  We decorated it together as a family, good fun.  The kids love Christmas lights, on the tree and on houses.  I decided to piece together enough lights to minimally cover the roof perimeter in stead of paying $10+ for 35 ft worth.  We will take advantage of the end of Christmas sales to christmas_dec_1get some new lights.  

I know there are some families out there that wait until December 31st to celebrate Christmas just so they can get gifts at 50 – 75% off presents.  Pretty good idea except for the fact everyone gets stuff that was returned or not all it was cracked up to be.

Dads set their children’s expectations and begin providing their reference for their Christmas traditions.  That is a real motivator for me.  Hopefully, their faces on Christmas day will be as well.