Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Day 2 for a Dog scare

Hopefully this is not going to be a trend. I posted yesterday on our little adventure with Jared. Well, I am back for episode II.

Our back yard fence is white vinyl pvc, and today the winds were pretty strong, with gusts up to 60 mph. When the fence was installed per the HOA guidelines, the contractor who built it did not measure one section correctly, and as a result, the top cross bar has a tendency to pull out of the hole in the post, if the winds are hard enough. Most times, I can just pop it back in and it will stay for a month or so, so it is not such a pain that I am willing to pay to get it replaced.

Today I let our husky outside to relieve her bladder, and I did not see that this cross bar had not only popped open, but several of the slats had fallen into the alley, creating a rather large hole in the fence. But she and I saw it at the same time, and being the little imp that she is, Masha decided to take a little walk. She did this knowing that she was not supposed to, because she looked back at me when I started calling her back inside, and giving me her impish smile, she slow-trotted meandaringly to the hole, walked through it, then she took off like a bullet.

If it were any other of our dogs, I would not have been so angry, because they all are fairly obedient, and also have a good sense of direction and homing skills. But if you know anything about Siberian Huskies, then you know that their homing instincts are, shall we say, non-existent.

Fortunately she was apparently thinking this was a grand game, as she would let me get within a few feet, and when I tried to grab her, she would jump away and start a fast trot down the street. But since each time I would almost get her, she would run just a little farther away, I was sure that she was going to take off running down the street or into the fields next to our housing development never to be seen again. Good news is she managed to get no further than the far side of the pocket park across the street from out house, before I finally managed to grab her collar and walk her back to the house. We waited for a minute or two, at the front door, since I had not gotten my keys, and the door was locked. Bungirl had taken the car and driven the other direction in the neighborhood, since we were not sure which way Masha had gone, and when she drove by she saw us on the porch.

And needless to say, getting the fence fixed so this doesn't happen again has gone to the top of my to do list.

Monday, January 28, 2008

When you let your dogs out, make sure they are all the way out

One of our dogs, Jared, is spending the night at the vets office, before he has surgery in the morning to repair a compound fracture at the tip of his tail. Which I inadvertently, and at the moment unknowingly, shut in the door. From which, in his shock-induced painlessness from the first few minutes back inside the house, and with his wildly wagging tail, he splattered blood all over our house. It looked like a murder scene with blood on the walls and on the floor. Thank goodness for Swiffer wet sweeper pads.

Fortunately the vet next to where BunGirl works was still open when I got him there. By then his shock had worn off, so that he was more growly than I have ever known him to be, due to what I suppose had to be quite a bit of pain and confusion. But the vet got his bleeding tail well bandaged without any bitten hands, and he should be back home tomorrow evening.

It's time for another Mystery Topic Challenge

I'm taking part in Mystery Topic Challenge #7. If you want to join me, just visit the MTC Blog today and sign up!

Monday, January 21, 2008

MTC #6 Caucus time

It is voting time

Please visit the Mystery Topic Challenge Blog to read all of the other entries. Once you've read them all, please be sure to vote HERE in the Sidebar for your favorite.

And please let mine be your favorite.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

MTC Challenge #6 - Where Grumpamoose becomes a Russian

This rounds topic is - What song transports you through space and time, and where do you go?

I was all set to write about "The Dance" by Garth Brooks, and how it reminds me of all the memories that I have of my late grandfather, whom I was privileged to have for 33 years. The tie in to the song is that for what he meant to me, 33 years is far far too short.

But I am not going to write about that song. Which makes me happier because I think I would rather siphon gasoline out of my car and set myself on fire that listen to 99% of what Mr Brooks has recorded.

Rather, since Jester added the addendum to his suggested topic that this song should be one that " provides you with an almost physical reaction when you hear it..." and since I had the most intense manifestation of this particular phenomenon most recently earlier this week, I will write about it instead.

This particular piece of music was written as a celebration of a military victory over Napoleonic France. It captures in the tempo, keys and volume of the notes, what I imagine the witnesses of this event saw, and felt.

From the dread of the ravaging French calvary, that burned villages as it came, and the mismatch faced by the defending army that was forced to retreat in the face of an implacable foe. And seeing the horror of your capital city burning, wondering if there is any victory against the Gallic horde. Feeling the anguish of friends, comrades and loved ones dying and mourning their dead, and the shame of a proud people seemingly unable to repel the invader.

I hear in the distance to the west the crack of musket fire, and the boom of artillery, and see charge and counter charge. And at the end of the day I feel shame and fear, as the French army is still standing with strength enough to seize our capital.

All of these reactions I feel in my gut to varying degrees, so much so that I can feel the shame of defeat after defeat as if I were one of the soldiers. I see the mothers walking across the battlefield crying over their dead sons, and see the tears in the old men as they look over the sooty ruins of Moscow as it is surrendered, and their impotent fists shaking at the blue coated Corsican as he rides by.

I then feel the pride in my country and my Tsar as I stand by thousands of my countrymen as we praise and celebrate a great victory, and know that once again our armies have prevailed, and driven back the foreigners. I sing with gusto, amid the clamor of church bells pealing throughout the land, and cannons booming, but no longer as agents of death. Rather they are instead lending their punctuations to the joy ringing out in the hearts of thousands of my countrymen, as once again Mother Russia is safe.

All this I feel, when I hear the 1812 Overture, by Pyotr Illych Tchaikovsky.

Hear Part 1 -

And Part 2 -

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This will not work

Once again, for the 20 billionth time, the politicians in Washington show that they have no clue what they are doing. The President's stimulus plan is a joke. $800.00 will no NOTHING to undo the recession the US is in. The US Economy is in trouble for one reason - Energy prices are too high. And since this economy is underpinned by consumers spending their income on goods and services -multiple and varied goods and services, every dollar more that is spend on such basic necessities such as gasoline, food, and electricity, that are increasing in price due to high oil prices, is one dollar less that cannot be spent on other goods and services.

The Washington -NY elites - in both parties - do not feel the impact of higher energy prices to the extent that the average middle class American does, and conveniently the official statistics on inflation do not include food or fuel prices, so officially there is no inflation. In addition, food and gasoline purchases are included in the official retail sales statistics, so retail sales seem to be ok. Not great, but not dire either. But no statistic can show how increased spending on necessities have lowered spending on other consumer goods. It is spending on "luxury" items that is necessary for a healthy economy, the way our modern economy is structured. Increased spending on necessities will simply not cut it, and that is fundamentally the problem the US faces.

Congress has had ample opportunity to address energy prices, and as usual, they go looking for unworkable solutions, such as windfall profits taxes on oil companies, instead of policies that actually have a better chance to actually succeed at their intended purpose. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of economics should know that high energy prices are an result of energy supplies that are too low. So, rather than create policies that address the supply issue, such as drilling for oil domestically, and developing nuclear power plants (The French get 70% + of their energy from nuclear power), Congress wants to tax oil companies. That doing so will increase the costs of refined petroleum to the consumers apparently doesn't occur to them. And while the idea of Congress mandating the types of cars Detroit can make, rather than allowing the Auto Industry respond to what the American People actually want is arrogant and despotic (typical of Washington these days), perhaps it would be better to strongly encourage widespread use of flex fuel gasoline/ethanol/methanol engines, rather than Congress order another increase in CAFE standards. The likely result of CAFE increases will be nothing but a significant rise in the price of cars, while making them smaller and more unsafe in crashes. By the way the US Automakers have an significant advantage over foreign car makers in Flex fuel technology, so this could have the added effect of keeping Americans employed at GM, Ford and Chrysler.

I certainly am not going to refuse $800.00 But neither am I going to go out and spend it. It will sit in my savings account, since it is a one time shot, and I am not going to change my spending habits. Some people will spend it right away, but once they do, the economy will not be in any better shape. People spending this "stimulus" is precisely what the President is hoping will be done, but if so, spending will increase one time, then fall back after a few weeks. once again back to where we are now.

This is nothing but an election year gimmick, so the politicians can feel better about themselves, that they "did something about the economy". It is time that they are shown up for the idiots they are, and shown the door in November, so that real solutions can be enacted. And there will be a crippling blizzard in Dallas, and the Texas Rangers will win the World Series before that happens.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Grumpamoose Wednesday II: Grumpamoose on goals

Years ago, when I was beginning my career, I was given two pieces of advice that has stood me in good stead. The first one is that I should not call a goal a goal unless it has these five characteristics. If not, it is a daydream. The five characteristics are:

Realistic, and
Time limited.

The second piece of advice is that a goal is not a good goal unless it is also a stretch to meet it - otherwise it is a routine.

I have since discovered that these characteristics do not only make a goal a goal in the business world, but should be also applied to personal goals as well. This is why I have not taken part in the New Year's resolution game for many years. However, I have been given some thought this month to goals I plan to achieve this year in 2008.

#1 - I am going to, by the end of April, be able to go for a one 12 - hour period without deliberately doing things that will piss off Bungirl. This includes not complaining, not lying about stuff to get me out of trouble, etc. This will not include things that are accidental or inadvertent, so that should take care of the realistic and achievable criteria. Time limited is taken care of deadline of April 30. Measurability is admittedly vaque, but if she is not mad at me in a set 12 hour period, that will have to do.

#2 - By December 31st, save enough money to cover 6 months of expenses. Having had a blowout quarter in the end of 2007 will help tremendously toward achieving this goal, since quarterly bonuses are "off budget"

#3 Also by Dec 31st, I will have done the exercises I started this year on at least 65% of the days I agreed to do them.

So, these all will be stretching, and also have the characteristics of what a goal is. Good luck to me.

(Since I hope to make Grumpamoose Wednesdays an ongoing series, please leave a comment suggesting a topic for next time. If it will be a good goal, I will endeavour to post on it, and give mad props to the suggester...perhaps also some Entrecard credits as well...)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Grumpamoose on Election 2008

Since I have not gotten the feedback I hoped for from my request for topics for this week's "Grumpamoose on...?" series, I guess I will supply the first topic. As I explained when I announced the series, these will be written as a stream of consciousness manner, so I apologize for any incoherence in advance.

When I started (or re-started) this blog again in 2007, I intended to avoid politics as much as possible. In spite of that, I have had several thoughts running through my head since Governor Huckabee won the Iowa Caucus last week. Now for the record I want to be clear - I do not support his candidacy, and likely will not vote for him in the Texas Primary in March, unless both of my preferred candidates are no longer in the race. Not that Texas has a likely primary voice, since traditionally the candidates are already selected by the first of March, which is another rant for another time. In the event that neither of my two preferred candidates are still alive on the GOP side, I will not vote for Huckabee, but will sit out the primary altogether - or go to the Democratic one and see how I can muck up the works, primarily speaking.

Specifically I continue to be super annoyed, and increasingly hostile toward, the GOP NY-DC Elites, due to the continuing derision of him and to a lesser extent, his supporters in Iowa and potential ones elsewhere. It is because of the way the NRO crowd in particular belittled Iowa's significance in this election cycle that I found a small measure of glee that Huckabee won, if for no other reason than I am sick of their elitism and disdain toward lower middle class social conservatives. Now I know the NROniks and Townhall folks are going to say what hostility? But when is the last time you read anything from Larry Kudlow, Andrew Stuttaford, Lisa Schiffren, Rich Lowry, Hugh Hewitt, Bill Kristol, Kathryn Lopez, Jim Geraghty and so forth, that acknowledges that, while by most historical measures the economy is doing well, the fact is that there are millions of Americans to whom the benefits of this economy are not flowing. Who of national prominence, other than Rod Dreher, acknowledge the damage to local, mainly lower and middle class neighborhoods that is aggravated, if not caused by, uncontrolled illegal immigration? What little I have seen written on this either denies that there are significant numbers who are not benefiting, rather than questioning and re-thinking the policies that are potentially exacerbating the challenges that many Americans face. There is little acknowledgment that significantly rising fuel and food prices are problems for large numbers of Americans. Inflation - what inflation? they say, conveniently ignoring that the Federal inflation stats leave out food and fuel costs, and retail sales numbers do not reflect the changing proportion devoted to fuel viz a viz other consumer goods. I would love to buy a hybrid car, but I cannot afford one, since corn ethanol demand has made my food more expensive.

Or in the case for those of us for whom abortion or illegal immigration, or health insurance issues, are a big deal, when we see that the GOP Congress has had 10+years to do something about these issues that the Congress has within their power to do, but haven't done so (like strip the Federal Courts of jurisdiction, and send the abortion question back to the 50 states where it belongs per the 10th Amendment). In the case of abortion, where has it been acknowledged that many social conservatives have finally started to realize that the pro-life stances of many of the GOP elected office may be only "purported", and these office holders have no intention of ever doing anything about it at the federal level?

What the Elites at NRO and other "conservative" bloggers have ignored or downplayed is this - Governor Huckabee has tapped into this stream of middle class/social conservative concerns and while his track record is mixed, and his policy proposals are somewhat wacky - he is the only candidate who publicly acknowledges that there is a lower and middle class, and that their concerns deserve as much if not more consideration as those of the bankers and stock market folks when making and re-making Federal domestic policy. Mitt Romney isn't getting this, Rudy Guiliani isn't, and John McCain isn't, and the NRO/East Coast/Anti Social Conservatives sure as hell don't get it. Mike Huckabee's policy prescriptions would again be of mixed benefit to the middle classes. For example, anyone who honestly believes that the Fair Tax would not result in double taxation and/or expects that the costs of goods would come down to offset the embedded taxes on income, is naive at best. Congress has shown no willingness to reduce spending in any degree, so the idea that the Federal Leviathan would not jump at the opportunity to add to the tax slavery burden if given the opportunity is asinine to the extreme. As is the idea that business executives would reduce their prices to reflect the lower income taxes rather than pocket the sudden windfall as profits to drive up the stock prices for the shareholders. If you honestly believe these things will happen, I would like to know what you are smoking.

Huckabee may be an excellent example of style over substance, but there is a reason why he is resonating, and I think here his background as a pastor gives him a leg up - a pastor knows "normal" people. He spends time with them, and their concerns often are his concerns as well. Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Mayor Guiliani , and I daresay the NRO/Hugh Hewitt/Club for Growth crowd, likely don't know many people outside their circle - not in the way that a pastor would. This in no way reflects on their character, but I doubt very highly that many of Mr Romney's close friends and associates make less than $200, 000, and I doubt he himself has rarely if ever earned much less that that, adjusted for 2008 dollars. The concerns of the middle and working class America are foreign to him, as they are to the vast majority of the GOP Elites. And since they are foreign, they are dismissed or ignored. Whereas Governor Huckabee, perhaps Fred Thompson, since as an actor he has everyday experiences with non-elite working folks (makeup artists, camera operators, etc), can relate to the middle class - to the average American. What the GOP elites do not seem to get is that there is much more to the Republican Party than the Club for Growth. The economic conservatives may have the money, but the social conservatives/middle class has the grassroots manpower and enthusiasm - BOTH are needed for victory. And since both groups are needed, why in the hell are Econ-cons spewing such animosity? I know I know, they expect that Social Conservatives will at the end of the day suck it up and, like good little boys and girls, vote for whichever Republican the elites throw up. Funny how this only seems to go one way. God forbid the Econ-con elites ever have to suck it up and get behind an actual honest to goodness Social Conservative.

As long as Huckabee is the only candidate who is speaking to the middle class instead of just the investor class, and at least acknowledging their legitimate concerns, this large fissure in the GOP coalition will continue to grow. Unless the NRO crowd and the candidates themselves get off their high horses and start seriously addressing the middle class, and both acknowledging and addressing the legitimate concerns of the many other conservatives that do not live and work along I-95 corridor, come November, say hello to President Obama or Clinton.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Grumpamoose on...?????

I am going to start a new series, every Wednesday, that will be a stream of consciousness essay on a particular topic. And I need your help . Please leave a comment on a suggested topic, since each weeks post will be on a topic submitted by what few readers I have - all two of you. I am making no guarantees that what I write in this series will be Pulitzer level writing, and more likely than no 'twill be little more than a long ramble. But I do promise I will make it as interesting as I can. I will choose a topic on the Monday before each Grumpamoose Wednesday, starting next week. So the deadline for topic consideration is Monday January 7. Comment away.