Category Archives: Random Thoughts

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.

GREAT DEPRESSION

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.   

Busy and Growing

It’s been busy at work.  At least twice a year, each ship program undergoes a review during which the program managers provide the contractor feedback on how they see things.  Half of those reviews usually involve monetary adjustments reflecting the contractors fulfillment of the contract.  Next week is one such review so everyone is busy preparing to defend their positions.  Everyone in shipbuilding is trying to get better and sometimes adjustments are painful but in the end will produce savings.

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Meanwhile, Ava and Binh have been growing.  As you may have read on Metaphase, Binh is now on the growth chart.  At last measurement he was in the 5th percentile.  After that milestone I began measuring him using a yardstick and making marks with dates.  We measured him in early December and then again about 25 days later and he had grown a hair over half an inch.  He has gone from 2 teeth in April to a full mouth now.  We are pretty exited about that. 

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Ava’s imagination is really growing.  She makes up big stories with incredible detail.  She makes up new names for her dolls and parents depending on her mood.  For example, if she calls Char “Mini” then you must respond, “Yes, Daisy.”  I think that is because in a cartoon over Christmas, Mini and Daisy are ice skaters and Daisy is wearing a crown.  Of course, Ava must be the one that wears the crown.  She may pretend to be Larry of veggie tales by calling you Bob or  call you baby meaning she is the mommy.  Gotta stay on your toes around her.  Don’t make a mistake!  She is not shy getting you straightened out.  Her new big words of the week are hillarious, connected and painful.  

Most of all the pictures we have been taking around here have been with Char’s new camera.  I think she has a great eye for photography.  I am pretty exited about what having a new camera will do for both capturing our special moments and some of the macro photography she is working on.  I will post some pics next go around.

Office of the President Elect = ?

83577971JS001_PRESIDENT_ELEHas any past president used the phrase “Office of the President Elect?” Why would one have a podium made with such a title?  Initially, I thought that is was because major change was coming and the Obama campaign intended to use his new self-made title help prepare us for this major change.  I don’t think that is the case.  Lets take a look at some of his major cabinet picks.  We don’t have to talk about Joe Biden.  I understand, he represents the foreign policy experience, using that term loosely.  Lets look as some of the others:  Secetery of State – Hillary Clinton:  What a surprise!  Change…  maybe not.  Attorney-General: Eric Holder – Deputy AG under the Clinton administration.  HHS – Tom Daschle:  Democrat that lost Senate majority during the Clinton admin turned lobbyist with his wife (I thought he said he would not use lobbyist).  Commerce – Bill Richardson:  a UN ambassador and Energy secretary under Clinton.  Chief of Staff – Rahm Emanuel:  Bill Clinton’s political and policy aid.  Special Counsel – Greg Craig:  Assistant and special council to Bill Clinton…  This “Change” sure looks familiar.  I guess when you lack DC experience, you go with what you have. 

As I’ve said before, the best indication of future performance is past performance and that goes for his cabinet as well.  Do you really think that these career politicians are capable of change?  Maybe he realizes that the country can’t afford the change he originally planned.  I would rather have Clinton experience, be it good or bad, in the White House over crooked Chicago politics any day.  It’s amazing how mum the media is with the IL governor’s Illinois Governor Profilearrest.  President-elect Barack Obama’s ties to Blagojevich run primarily through felon associate Tony Rezko.  Rezko served as a political mentor and financier for both Blagojevich and Obama, helping both to rise in Chicago and Illinois politics. Obama himself has credited Rezko with helping to his political career. 

Instead of looking at the links between people associated with the selling of a US Senate seat we will focus on labeling Blagojevich as “insane” in order to discredit any incrimination that would follow.  This is starting to look like change alright, change for the worse and he doesn’t even have a title with teeth yet.

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.