Saturday, April 30, 2011

Raising the Roof, Or 'Lowering the Floor'?

I guess it's a matter of perspective...


Look up, look down, look out...

Hey everyone, did you hear about any of the following yesterday:

•THE wedding of the Royals?
•THE birth certificate?
•THE ‘came-this-close- but-not-close-enough’ shuttle launch?
•THE aftermath of the storms which decimated towns and killed hundreds of our neighbors?
•THE ‘Donald’?

If so, you’re like most Americans.
Unfortunately, if you’re like ‘most Americans’ you weren’t looking at, or hearing anything that matters to you, or your family – personally. If you wanted to find any real news, you had to look for it.

The “800 Pound Gorilla in the Room” News Item no one is talking about (again)?

The Debt Ceiling

I pulled out my trusty Gateway laptop and decided to look for the news which isn’t very popular today. But last week, last week, it was VERY popular. I even grabbed an image of last Saturday’s ‘Huffington Post’ Home Page LAST Saturday Morning for a post I never wrote.

This is that image from 7:15am, Saturday, April 23rd:



Articles pulled from the above screen shot of April 23, 2011:

Republicans Downplay Urgency of Raising Debt Ceiling,
Conservative Strategists Warn GOP Against Pushing Debt Debate Too Far…
Default Could Be Doomsday Scenario for Economy
(This last headline is my favorite as it contains all the best “Shock and Awe” scenarios of what would / could / should happen, if Evil Republicans don’t raise the debt ceiling)

According to the article referenced directly above, here are just a FEW of the things which will happen if we don’t ‘Raise the Roof’ on our Debt (luckily they didn’t mention the”Dogs and Cats living together” scenario as referenced in the film, “Ghostbusters”. This is about the only end of the world prediction they left out in the article…):

“Among the first directly affected would likely be money-market funds holding government securities, banks that buy bonds directly from the Federal Reserve and resell them to consumers, including pension and mutual funds; and the foreign investor community, which holds nearly half of all Treasury securities.

If the U.S. starts missing interest or principal payments, borrowers would demand higher and higher rates on new bonds, as they did with Greece, Portugal and other heavily indebted nations. Who wants to keep loaning money to a deadbeat nation that can’t pay its bills? [Moos Note: This actually IS a good question. I wonder why no one in DC is discussing the fact that under this Administration we ARE a deadbeat nation?]

At some point, the government would have to slash spending in other areas to make room for any further sales of Treasury bills and bonds. That could squeeze payments to federal contractors, and eventually even affect Social Security and other government benefit payments, as well as federal workers’ paychecks. [Moos Note: Ah, I knew we'd get to the part about making old people eat dog food sooner or later. We 'crazy free-market' folks can get incensed as well that private businesses working on contracts for the Feds will ALSO get stiffed. Nice touch, article-writer guy...]



The debt ceiling will be hit on or around May 16[Moos Note: This has since been pushed back to "Early July 2011" according to Ben Bernanke - what a difference a week makes in DC...], the Treasury Department says. Unlike the threatened government shutdown, the impact would start slowly, but then build mightily until the damage would be so dire that few political leaders or economists even want to contemplate it. The day of reckoning could likely be delayed at least until early July with creative bookkeeping. [Moos Note: Oh, I see that we HAVE gotten creative with the bookkeeping - good for US! We won't have to worry about the end of the world until "Bones" and "House" are both in re-runs over the summer months. I'll pay attention then, when it, apparently, will matter again...]

When the House first rejected the Bush administration’s $600-billion bank bailout in September 2008, the Dow Jones industrials went into a dizzying 778-point tailspin.A whiff of a possible similar stock market collapse came on Monday with a sharp selloff on Wall Street when the Standard & Poors lowered its outlook on U.S. debt to “negative” from “stable,” possibly a first step toward a possible downgrade of America’s coveted AAA credit rating. [Moos Note: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!]

“We haven’t downgraded it. We just said, if nothing happens, we may have to,” said S&P chief economist David Wyss. He said a government default remains uncharted territory, “which is one reason why it’s not a good idea to hit the debt ceiling.” [Moos Note: Yes, it's always better to spend MORE in DC - it's the 'responsible' thing to do...]

“There’s reason to worry,” said Wyss. “But my best guess is that we sort of muddle through this. Cuts will be made, they’ll be too little too late, but at least they will be enough to maintain a triple-A rating.” [Moos Note: So, S&P chief economist, David Wyss, you're saying NOT to worry about it after all? But what about the whole "IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD THEME" as posted on the Huffington Post last week? What about that?]

To answer my own question I went to the 7:00am, April 30, 2011 home page of the Huffington Post.  Apparently EVERY Day is about the 'End of the World'...

This is what I found:



I guess the good news is that we’ve moved the needle from ‘Armageddon’ to ‘Catastrophe’.

Progess!

The real catastrophe for me, you, and all of us is if the Republicans, under the shaking, wavering hand of John Boehner, do NOT tie spending cut provisions to the issue of raising the nation’s debt ceiling. The Federal Government must have its financial ‘tubes tied’ so that it does not continue to spawn a dependency class in our nation.

I got into a debate with a friend who had put up a comment and article link about 'Evil Republicans' (you know the drill) I wrote back that I didn’t feel that it was the job of the Federal Government to trap Americans into a cycle of ‘subsistance’ living. One of his college friends shot back a note to me saying, “I vote, and I think everyone should be entitled to a subsistence living!”

 
Okay, let’s go to the Free Online Dictionary for a moment:

sub·sis·tence  
n. 1. The act or state of subsisting.
2. A means of subsisting, especially means barely sufficient to maintain life

This is NOT my vision of, or for, America. But perhaps I am not ‘educated’ enough to know.

What I do know is that I am leaving a country less able to provide for itself to my children than the one my parents left me. For this, I am ashamed, embarrassed, and emboldened enough to speak out.

Our nation will endure. But let me ask this - how much longer will we endure the petty politics, pointless rhetoric, and a profound lack of economically-sound leadership currently found in Washington, DC?

We ARE a nation divided. Roughly one half of America pays to carry the country for the other half’s freight. It’s time ALL of us to begin pulling together. We don’t need to raise the debt ceiling. We need to lower our expenses, pay our bills, and create jobs for those who are ready and able to work. More jobs, more tax collections, fewer ’Subsistence’ payouts as they relate to Unemployment Insurance, Welfare, WIC, you get it, right?

Where is the next great American leader? Come on, give…

The current guy with the Teleprompter?

No, not even close…

My prayers go out to those Americans who have lost so much this prior week. I pray for all Americans. We’ve each lost ‘much’ since we began to ‘Fundamentally Transform of America’. Contrary to popular belife, the transformation began PRIOR to President Obama’s election. It began when Harry met Nancy and the Democratic Party controlled Congress for the first time in decades.

It began when Republicans began acting like the “Other Guys” across the aisle. We now know why it took decades for the Democrats to get back into power. We forget the lessons we learned the last time the Progressive folks had the keys to our government.

Perhaps we’ll remember THIS time?

Note to self: Need to add this to my prayer list this evening…

Have a good weekend folks,

This is what Progressives think of Boehner?  Now that's funny...
Not based any way in fact, but funny, nonetheless


Moo

Friday, April 29, 2011

Al Qaeda Gets 'Frank'

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"But I am a blasted tree; the bolt has entered my soul; and I felt then that I should survive to exhibit what I shall soon cease to be--a miserable spectacle of wrecked humanity, pitiable to others and intolerable to myself."
- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein


"If you have given up your heart for the Tower, Roland, you have already lost. A heartless creature is a loveless creature, and a loveless creature is a beast. To be a beast is perhaps bearable, although the man who has become one will surely pay hell's own price in the end, but if you should gain your object? What if you should, heartless, storm the Dark Tower and win it? What could you do except degenerate from beast to monster? To gain one's object as a beast would only be bitterly comic, like giving a magnifying glass to an elephant. But to gain one's object as a monster - To pay hell is one thing. But do you want to own it?"
- Stephen King, The Dark Tower Vol. II, The Drawing of The Three


Monsters.  They're not just in books (or those really bad SyFy Movies) any longer.

They are real.  They are here.  They will be with us always.

Last winter as TSA 'Body Scans' became BIG news, I had a thought born of a news broadcast.  It was not a comforting thought.  It was not a happy thought.  It was a thought about monsters and the men who create them.  I believe monsters don't create themselves, they're spawned of hate, science, and / or obsession.

As news folks reported endlessly about the technology being used to see your 'bits' under your clothing, I had my momentary crystallized thought of monstrous clarity.  It was the by-product of an off-hand question asked by some frustrated-ex-model-turned-reporter holding the microphone to the TSA agent as she asked the question, "So, what exactly CAN you see with these scanners?  Can you see internal organs or hip replacements, or anything similar to that?  How strong is this new X-Ray system?" 

The TSA agent's response,  "No, you cannot see anything within the body, or below the skin - only the surface of the body is visible."

Following the logic then, anything below the skin or within the body is 'hidden'...

Here there be monsters.
I turned off the television, sat back in my seat and crossed my arms.  I wasn't necessarily cold, but I had that, "A goose walked over my grave" feeling.  Yeah, the goose was loose and that little fella was dancin' ALL over my grave.  Unable to shake the feeling, I got up, walked to the back door, let the dogs out, pulled up a chair from the back patio and slouched bonelessly down as I pondered the thought which had just materialized within the twisted confines of my skull. 

It turns out that I was not the only one watching this broadcast.  Worse yet, someone else had the idea which had sprung into my mind from the interview.  The Daily News put my fears into print in December - confirming that I was not the only one watching, listening, and thinking.

Curse you Daily New, curse you...

From the article: 

WASHINGTON- Jihadis bent on concocting a "new kind of terrorism" are brainstorming how to surgically implant explosives to make undetectable Frankenbombers.

"What is your opinion about surgeries through which I can implant the bomb ...inside the operative's body?" an apparent mad surgeon recently asked an online forum used by Al Qaeda affiliates.

He called on bombmakers and doctors to cook up the perfect solution to murder "larger numbers of unbelievers and apostates."

"I am waiting for the interaction of the experienced brothers to connect the two sciences together and produce a new kind of terrorism, Allah willing," he wrote, according to a translation by terror experts at the SITE Intelligence Group.
...

Stitching a bomb into the abdominal cavity made of plastic or liquid explosives - such as semtex or PETN - was judged the best method.

"It must be planted near the surface of the body, because the human body absorbs shocks," advised one terrorist.
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The goose is loose.

Okay, so here's the thing - TSA agents all across America are searching for guns, knives, explosives, etc. hidden underneath the clothing of passengers while Al Qaeda heads are looking for ways to put small scary packages INTO the passengers themselves.

This leaves us with two options:

OPTION 1:  Strip search all passengers prior to entering the plane, paying special attention to any LARGE recently-sutured areas of the body.  Typically a long fuse running out from someone's navel is a good indication that there 'may be' a problem with this passenger.  The TSA 'may' want to question them.

OPTION 2:  Take all passengers out to the ramp which 'normally' takes them into the cabin of the plane and push them one-at-a-time from the ramp onto the tarmac ten feet below.  If they EXPLODE - they were a safety risk.  If they slowly stand up again with nothing worse than a compound fracture of the femur, there's nothing much to fear other than perhaps, a really large lawsuit and 'bloody tarmac'.

Hold on, I just realized that there may be an OPTION 3 after all!  But this one is politically-incorrect so it has about the same chance of happening as I do of growing two inches taller by morning (this only happened once in my life, but I was MUCH younger). 

Shoot, what the heck, let's go for it, shall we?!?! 


"Hey Mike, what's OPTION 3?"

OPTION 3:  If someone looks like a Muslim-Extremist-Terrorist...  Tap them on the shoulder, pull them out of line and talk to them for a while 'away from other travelers' (preferably as you're standing on the OTHER side of the explosion-proof glass).

No, you don't need to tell me that I'm talking CRAZY as I already KNOW that I am.  Who would ever think that the 'stereotypical' terrorist would look like a 'stereotypical' terrorist?  The TSA had better keep 'patting down' those Nuns, old people, cancer survivors, and children whom we're pulling out of line today, because THEY could be the real threat to our country.

That's the thing about monsters - they could look like anyone:  You, me, a six year-old girl with a doll, or the elderly woman with a walker hobbling slowly towards the terminal gate...  ANYONE! 

Darn those shape-shifting terrorists -- darn them to HECK!!!

If I were a shape-shifting Terrorist, I'd disguise myself to look like a Muslim guy in my late twenties.  The TSA will wave me through immediately to avoid being accused of racial (and religious) 'profiling'. 

Profiling, I'm told, is insensitive to people who exhibit certain racial and / or religious beliefs.  We should NEVER EVER speak to them about whether they want to blow us up or not.  That would be MEAN.

America, in spite of all of its warts, is NOT a MEAN place - no matter what Michelle Obama says.
If you'd like to read the entire article from the New York Daily News - click anywhere within this really long link. 

No geese were injured in the generation of today's post.


The goose?  He continues to dance. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Niche Marketing


Being a 'sales guy' is fun (most days).  But my true love is Marketing.  Suprisingly enough, Sales is 'different' than Marketing.

Consider the following two definitions (you won't find these in any Earth-Based college text books - you'll see why in a moment):

SALES:
  Sales consists of going out and having a two-way dialogue with a prospect / customer / stranger and going through the whole Need / Satisfaction Selling process.  Someone has a need - you dig around long enough to find the solution which will satisfy that need.  It's the classic 'Win/Win' scenario.

BAD ANALOGY:  Sales is like being in a submarine and 'Pinging' randomly - hoping to find an objective somewhere above, or under the sea near you in an effort to 'Target in on it'.  It's active (as in, 'Active Sonar Pinging' - heard that in a movie once).  You're not exactly sure what you're looking for...  Until you find it.  THEN, you take aim and fire. 


MARKETING:
  Marketing is a broad-based 'Campaign' which is 'typically' a one-way conversation.  The Marketing guy / gal doesn't know the specific needs of the individual prospect, but hopes that by tossing out enough Benefits (a.k.a.:  'Cool Stuff'), they'll get someone to so something - perhaps buy something, take an action, or just maybe, pay to watch women in underwear hit each other.

BAD ANALOGY:  Marketing is knowing that there's a North Korean sub out there 'somewhere'.  You could look for it by 'Pinging' it from your ship, or sub.  But why bother?  Simply fly in, drop a nuke in the general area, turn the sea to steam and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that you 'most likely got it'.  And if you didn't?  It wasn't there to begin with.  No problem - there are always MORE nukes to drop, right?

Yes, this is why I don't teach business courses (anywhere) on this planet.  I do, however conduct night school classes on Bovinia Seven, a small planet just outside of our Milky Way. 
But seriously, why brag?

So, getting (finally) to the topic of today's post...
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        Let's talk football!!!
Yes, somewhere on THIS planet someone (I'm thinking it was probably a guy) decided that there was a need to begin marketing women in underwear, pads, and lip gloss - playing football.

I did not know this.

I thought football was reserved for large hairy men?  Kind of gives the whole 'Fantasy Football League' a whole new spin, doesn't it?

Sorry, my mind was wandering.

Apparently the Lingerie Football League (LFL) has been around for a while.  Having spent too much time 'off planet' teaching Marketing, I missed the entire LFL thing until last night when I tripped across a video about a 'girl fight' involving Miami Caliente players, and um, well, really, who cares?

The LFL has it's own WEBSITE, Ten Professional Lingerie Football Teams, Friday Night Football on MTV2, AND, I'm assuming, a complete clothing line of team-themed Underoos. 

Did I mention that Marketing is my true love?  Yeah, I guess I did earlier in the post, but you know, my mind tends to wander.  I don't know who, when, or where 'Lingerie Football' originated, but my 'virtual' hat is off to them.

Those guys / gals are geniuses.  Talk about a HUGE Market Demographic!  They'll attract men, women, Lesbians, yeah, pretty much the entire population of the U.S. can be a fan of LFL.

I'm just hoping that the league doesn't expand into the Northeast. 

INTRODUCING THE BINGHAMTON BOUNCERS!!!
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On second thought, maybe not. 

There's not enough Marketing in the World...

Meet Arianna - Your Travel Consultant

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Dear Arianna,

I am recently planning vacation with you.  It will be good trip to good place.  Many people have gone this place.  Some have returned with hair.  Yes, this would be good trip for you, I think. 

You care about Earth much more than most other Greek-American Millionaires.  You are good person I think.  I book tickets with you now - no?

Your friend,

Ivan Ivanovich Gore-ivich


Leave it to the MoosRoom blog to find your BEST TRAVEL IDEAS for this non-Easter-related vacation!!!

Tired of the same old vacation spots?!?!


Seriously, how often can you go to:

PARIS?

MONACCO?

HOLLYWOOD?

HOLLAND?

DETROIT???


Let 2010 be the last year you settle for the 'Typical Vacation' experience!

Why?!?!

According to an article I found on
TheHuffingtonPost, there's word of a new HOT travel destination for that special 'hip and happening' enviromental activist in your life! 

Where is it???


Chernobyl !!!
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Yes, the Huffington Post is proud to announce that the Ukrainian Government is considering giving tours of the Chernobyl site to... 


Environmentalist Tourists!

From the article I found online at Arianna's place: 

KIEV, Ukraine — Want a better understanding of the world's worst nuclear disaster? Come tour the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Beginning next year, Ukraine plans to open up the sealed zone around the Chernobyl reactor to visitors who wish to learn more about the tragedy that occurred nearly a quarter of a century ago, the Emergency Situations Ministry said Monday.
...

Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Yulia Yershova said experts are developing travel routes that will be both medically safe and informative for Ukrainians as well as foreign visitors. She did not give an exact date when the tours were expected to begin.
"There are things to see there if one follows the official route and doesn't stray away from the group," Yershova told The Associated Press. "Though it is a very sad story."  [MOOS NOTE:  Yeah, I would think that 'straying from the group' in an area irradiated by Chernobyl Reactor #4's fallout MIGHT possibly be an incredibly bad idea!  Nonetheless, thanks for saying it out loud Yulia, but I think we knew this already...]...


The United Nations Development Program chief Helen Clark toured the Chernobyl plant together with Baloha on Sunday and said she supported the plan because it could help raise money and tell an important lesson about nuclear safety.
"Personally I think there is an opportunity to tell a story here and of course the process of telling a story, even a sad story, is something that is positive in economic terms and positive in conveying very important messages," said Clark, according to her office.  [MOOS NOTE:  No mention as to whether or not Helen Clark was 'glowing' at the time of the interview, although overhead lighting fixtures did assume an unusual greenish-tint and metallic-buzz whenever she walked beneath them]

The ministry also said Monday it hopes to finish building a new safer shell for the exploded reactor by 2015. The new shelter will cover the original iron-and-concrete structure hastily built over the reactor that has been leaking radiation, cracking and threatening to collapse.

Okay, the REAL reason(s) for the tours:

1.  Today there are 'illegal tours' taking place in the area and the Ukrainian government isn't getting any financial 'love' from the illegal tour guides - they want "In".  Yes, Capitalism has 'seeped' into Soviet Air Space - at the government level.  Who'd have thunk it?

2.  The original 'shell' covering the radioactive 'guts' at the site is 'leaking radiation and cracking'.  I think that a 'new safer shell' would probably be a good idea.  Oh, and the part about selling tickets to Liberal-Progressive-Environmental folks to tour the site is...  GENIUS!  Come to think of it, I may just hold a fund-raiser to pay for a lot of their tickets to GO...

3.  The UN wants to promote the tours to show how EVIL Nuclear Power is.  Apparently the UN building in Manhattan is powered by nothing other than Unicorn Tears since I know that members of the UN would not want Nuclear, Coal, or Oil-based power plants supplying their electrical power for their portable refrigerators and iPads.  All energy is bad - until you need it for your UN-provided Mr. Coffee coffee maker...

So, how do we wrap things up today?  Well, if YOU'RE considering traveling to the Ukraine for a tour of Chernobyl, I'd like you to meet your new THEME SONG (for the rest of your shorter-than-expected life): 




BONUS!  If you can't afford to make the trip yourself, feel free to picture yourself in the following photos!!!
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This is the main entrance to the Chernobyl facility.  You stand in the foreground as Lenin stares (menacingly) over your right shoulder.blog post photo
Whoa, check out all the technology!  This is the control panel at Chernobyl Reactor #3.  This reactor 'went dark' at the end of 1999 - 13 years AFTER Reactor #4 melted down.  (Yes, you read this correctly - people continued to work within sight of Reactor #4 for THIRTEEN YEARS following the melt-down because the area needed power...)

[NOTE TO SELF:  Never work anywhere where the technology appears to have come from the set of
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000]blog post photo
Picture yourself in the Hot Seat as you 'twist dials' and watch 'blinking lights' do, um, whatever it is that they do.  All part of your Reactor 3 fantasy vacation at Chernobyl!blog post photo
Visit nearby Pripyat for all of your lodging, dining, and entertainment needs!  You'll be alone, of course, as the city has been abandoned since the melt-down of Reactor 4.  But parking is a BREEZE!!!blog post photo
As you close the door on your fantasy Chernobyl vacation remember to immediately shower and promptly burn any clothing your wore for today's visit. 

Why?  Because it's better to be naked and shivering in the Ukraine than it is to have lymph nodes the size of St. Bernards for the rest of your (now-much-shorter) life.

I'd like to thank the Huffington Post for giving me something to write about today.  I can only imagine what it'll have for us tomorrow!?!?  


Maybe something about President Obama's Birth Certificate again?  Those people seem to be obsessed by it.  Wonder why that is???

Heh, heh, heh... 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Good Night Sweet Polar Cow...

My apologies to those who wanted to see the following post for Earth Day.  Between the two of us - I was asleep at the wheel. 

But to me, EVERY day is Earth Day. 

It's like 'where I live man...'



Oh my.  I don't know how I can begin this post.  But I will, as always, do what I can in spite of my shock, sorrow, and dismay over the following topic. 

GOOD NEWS:  It wasn't a polar bear

BAD NEWS:  It wasn't a polar bear

Given the constraints of time, and the uncertainty of my still trembling hands, I'll keep this post as brief as possible. 

I'm sorry.  Some days it's just hard.



FROM THE UK INDEPENDENT ONLINE
After two reports of polar bears being washed up on the British coast this year, it was only a matter of time before the icebergs arrived.


"Amazed locals" had seen icebergs off the north-west coast of England, at Morecambe Bay in the Irish Sea, according to news reports yesterday.


Many people assume that the UK is too far south to have icebergs, but the fatal collision between the giant passenger liner Titanic and the iceberg which did for her in April 1912 was actually a long way to the south of the British Isles, at latitude 41°46N. The most southerly part of Britain, the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall, lies at 49°55N.


Predictably, however, further investigation revealed yesterday's "icebergs" to be more in the nature of ice floes – the biggest being about 20ft long and three feet thick. They were frozen parts of the sea nonetheless, in an area where temperatures had, on occasions during the recent freeze, climbed no higher than minus 8C.
...

Reports of polar bears traveling to Britain made the news earlier this year. The RSPB suggested that one had been washed up still alive on the Hebridean island of Mull – the story was an April Fool. The second report came in September when Naomi Lloyd, a presenter of ITV's West Country breakfast bulletin, excitedly informed viewers that a polar bear had been washed up dead at the Cornish seaside town of Bude.


The animal turned out to be a cow, which had been bleached white by the seawater.


Stories regarding the 'washed up' Polar Bear spread quickly throughout the country as environmentalists pointed to the beached carcass as 'Proof Positive' that Global Warming was, in fact, killing Polar Bears.  (And, apparently, floating them on icebergs thousands of miles to the English countryside)

Seriously, you Global Warming Extremist folks - you may want to take a few moments to check for 'udders' prior to sending the Press Releases out worldwide.

For now, the polar ice caps appear to be intact (and by some accounts...  Growing)

Come on, don't have a COW...

 

R.I.P. Cornwall Cow Friend

'Cornwallis Bovinius Washedupontheshoreus'
      Betsy Belle Bovine (2001 - 2011)

Can't go on, can't go...

Moo

At World's End

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"I think we’ve all arrived at a very special place. Spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically." -- Capt. Jack Sparrow

Q.:  "What's a Pirate's favorite letter of the alphabet?"

A.:  "Arrrrrrrrrr"

Thanksgiving weekend, 2010:  The family and I spent the holiday at my folks' house on the North Fork of Long Island.  Nature cooperated (no snow, ice, or volcanic eruptions) while we were visiting the Casa de Kane on the long weekend in November.  Yes, we had the all-day cook fest in the kitchen, the traditional carving of the bird, and that hazy glow which typically follows the intake of roughly 6,700 calories (not including dessert).

I was hoping to post this sooner - sometime in 2010 would have been ideal, but time, like meandering shoppers on cellular phones in grocery aisles, seemed to get in the way at each turn of the calendar page. 

Surprisingly, today's post has nothing to do with Pirates, Johnny Depp, or New York State Taxes (each being a bit 'piratical' in its own way).  But rather, it's about a trip I wanted to take with my family for years which we finally - did. 

This is that trip.  While it took us five hours, I'm thinking that you can cover the same ground in less than five minutes.  You won't need walking shoes, parka, or gloves, just toss on your reading glasses, give your Polly a cracker, pour a pint of grog (sorry, the Pirate-thing again), and follow the Kane family as we go the place in New York State 'closest to England'. 

Perhaps not 'Worlds End' but certainly, New York's End.

Additional questions to ponder at this point...

Q.:  "Sir, how do you get to Carnegie Hall?"
A.:  "Practice, man, practice..."

Q.:  "Sir, how do you get to Montauk Point from here?"
A.:  "Well, if I were going to Montauk Point, I wouldn't start here..."  

Ah, but we must start somewhere, mustn't we?  And what better place to begin than in Greenport, NY taking the Shelter Island Ferry to the fashionable 'Hamptons'?   
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The day was a 'beauty'.  It was cold, about 34 degrees with a constant wind cranking from the Southwest about 20 miles per hour.  The sky was relatively clear, the air clean, and the travellers (including me), for the most part, were not as 'crabby' as they normally are.  Hmm, might be a good day after all... 




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"Hey Jon, come out of the van and walk on the ferry with me!  We'll see 'stuff'!" 

"Dad, come on, it's cold out 'there'!"  Seconds later, the door once again slid forward and the metallic 'CLACK' of the locks echoed across the deck of the ferry.  Well, maybe it wasn't going to be a 'perfect' day, but we hadn't tossed anyone into the Bay (yet).


Here is the one of the 'other' Shelter Island Ferries.  This one, I believe was named the 'Belle of the Bay' or something close to it.  I've got to tell you that I sure was cold when I pulled myself back onto the deck of our ferry after jumping into the water to snap this photo (yes, I continue to do it 'all for you'). 

I'm pretty sure that I was in the water a little too long as I had begun to see 'Dead Relatives' beckoning me from the Island all the while surrounded by a brilliant white light.  It was soooooo peaceful...  I wanted to gooooooo....
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My son took this photo once we arrived in some un-recognizable 'Hamptons' town.  I have no idea why.  I'm including it here in the off-chance that someone reading this might recognize it and clue me in as to why it may be important enough to photograph on MY road-trip. 
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"Hey Mike, where the heck are we going???" you will fairly ask.

"Arrrrgh, we be going to Montauk Lighthouse in Montauk, NY (a.k.a.:  World's End)!  Now give me back me parrot or I'll skin ye like a sheep!  And while ye be passing that barrel there, ladle me out a pint!"


We've ARRIVED!  First things first..."Here at Montauk State Park (and LightHouse) we are fiercely committed to protecting our environment!  While there are THOUSANDS of perfectly good trees outside, we invite you to urinate into this state-of-the-art repository using the "Touch-Free, Hygienic, Waterfree Sloan Urinal"!  This will save 40,000 gallons of fresh water, per urinal, per year!  And before you thank US -- You're welcome!!!  Oh, feel free to hold your breath on hot, sunny, summer days!" 

This urinal, of course, was in a building less than 100 feet from the Atlantic Ocean.  With a little time, sweat, duct tape and PVC pipe, I could have given them all the Water they wanted - for FREE. 

AND, with a second set of PVC - all the wee would go into the sea!  Sounds environmentally-sensitive to me... 
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The accursed Urinal in all of its porcelain infamy.
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The Montauk Lighthouse:- Authorized by the Second congress in 1792, under President George Washington


- Construction began on June 7, 1796 and was completed on November 5, 1796

- First lighthouse in New York State

- Fourth oldest active lighthouse in the United States

- Foundation is 13'deep and 9' thick

- Constructed of sandstone blocks from Connecticut, 8" high and varying in length from 18" high to 44"

- The walls are 6' thick at the base tapering to 3' thick at the top

- The height of the tower is 110' 6"

- There are 137 iron steps to the top of the tower

- The light flashes every 5 seconds and can be seen a distance of 19 nautical miles

This is THAT lighthouse...
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While stopping by the Montauk, be sure to visit our Guest Center (or else you can't get anywhere near the joint)...  blog post photo


Forty-Five Dollars and two minutes later...blog post photo


The following is a statue dedicated to seamen who have lost their lives while sailing in partially-sea-worthy boats.  No, I'm assuming that this was a bit of 'artistic license' on the part of the sculptor of this piece.  Many souls have been lost fishing the waters of the northern Atlantic Ocean, this is in tribute to them (I shouldn't joke around with Memorials, but I WAS wondering where the rest of this muscular man's boat was...  Maybe New York State (Feds?) ran out of money?)blog post photo


The view from below...blog post photo



The view from INSIDE...blog post photo


The view almost all the way 'from the bottom to the top'...  An ever-decreasing width of stairs.blog post photo


A view from the top over-looking... 

Yes, in the distance, just past the parking lot, the Sloan Water-Free Urinal building.
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The view to the Right...blog post photo


The view to the Leftblog post photo


The REALLY scary fake-guy from the 1800's with the flat-panel LCD TV on his desk.  At this point, I didn't care if the lighthouse WAS haunted or not (according to the 'guide', it IS haunted), this guy was freaky enough...  I hurried back out of this room sensing - 'EVIL' (and begining to tremble while looking at the really bad fake hair).blog post photo



Here are the boys trying to keep warm AND their eyes open as the wind and sun buffet their bodies outside the lighthouse keeper's building (and museum!  $45 gets you THIS close to it!).  blog post photo


The obligatory plaque discussing the Lighthouse, it's history, etc.  This was located off the walkway in an area not accessible to tourists.  I guess they don't want our 'stinking hands' on it?blog post photo


Come on, you know that you'd buy the postcard of this photo if you found it at your local WalMart...  blog post photo



Here's a photo I took while flying in my private sea-plane looking back at the lighthouse!  It's good to be me!  Or perhaps, maybe it's just good to know how to 'Google' images online...blog post photo

"I stand as on some mighty eagle's beak, Eastward the sea absorbing, viewing (nothing but sea
and sky), The tossing waves, the foam, the ships in the distance, The wild unrest, the snowy.
curling caps-that inbound urge and urge of waves, the shores forever . . ." 
-- Walt Whitman, from "Leaves of Grass", 1883 

Walt Whitman wrote this part of his poem, "Leaves of Grass" about the Montauk Lighthouse.  While I cannot write as well as this (or any, for that matter) poet, I do appreciate the sentiments expressed by the man who, in addition to being a poet, managed to invent...

The "Whitman's Sampler"
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    No, I made that up. Or, did I?
As for me, all I can do is remind you (and myself) that in everyone is entitled to a FINITE number of 'perfect days'.  The above day is one of mine. 

If you get a chance to visit Long Island, remember to head 'East'.  It's where history, nature, chocolate and the awe of God's work co-exist harmoniously at the lighthouse approved by our nation's second Congress, built under the watchful eye of President George Washington. 

And did I mention the WaterFree Urinals?  Oh, I see that I did. 

Make it a great day folks! 

They're all good - try to make each of them - GREAT.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Inconvenient Math

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"Inflation is taxation without legislation"  - Milton Friedman

"We must not take our economic strength for granted.  That is why it is critical to pay down the debt -- to keep inflation and interest rates low"  - Bill Clinton

"The way to crush the bourgeoisie is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation"  - Vladimir Lenin


You know that when I start quoting Milton Friedman, Bill Clinton and Vladimir Lenin in the same post - it's gonna get weird pretty quickly.

Let the weirdness begin...

Have you noticed that the 'stuff' you buy costs more than it used to?

Ever wonder why it's only YOU who notices it? 


Don't get me wrong, I'm sure that your friends, family and neighbors share 'your pain' , but do the folks in the Federal Government who are paid to track stuff like 'Inflation' feel it too?

In a word, 'No'.   


The Feds, in a desire to MANAGE your pain, 'tweaks' the information it publishes hoping that you won't look under the covers for yourself.  (You may find bed bugs down there...  And bed bugs are OOOOGEY!) 

I heard a report a while back which stated that the CPI Inflation rate was just .1% for the month of November, 2010.  According to the
Bureau of Labor and Statistics, inflation for the first eleven months 2010 was a paltry 1.1%.

This of course, begs the question:  If your costs (like mine) keep going up, how can Inflation be so low?  A 1.1% inflation rate assumes that $1,000 worth of goods and services on January 1, 2010 would cost you, on average, $1,100 on November 30th, 2010. 

How do you like the Math so far??? 


Have your costs been relatively FLAT all year?

"Bad American, you must not ask impertinent questions!  Accept what you are told - ve have vays of calculating CPI which you cannot possibly understand!  Don't ask questions, ve will tell you what you need to know!"


So, what DO you need to know?

How about the following?:

*  The CPI Inflation rate currently includes neither FOOD nor ENERGY.  Why?  According to the BLS, the prices of food and energy are much too volatile (Translation:  They go up WAY too fast) to include in the calculation.  But doesn't a large percentage of your take home pay go towards these two items?  Yes, it does, but don't think about it because it doesn't 'compute' in the CPI. 

*  If the price of an automobile goes up 10% in a given year but it is more fuel-efficient, the BLS calculates this increase in fuel-efficiency into the ongoing operating cost of the car, bringing its 'cost' down.  So even though the cost of the vehicle is MORE, this cost is not represented in the CPI calculation.  I'm not entirely sure how this would work since the BLS folks said that they do not include energy costs in the calculation - but don't worry, they've made it work somehow...

Okay, so is there any sanity out there?

Um, No. 

I found an article online from the folks at Time who declared "2010, A Year of No Inflation".  That's funny considering that driving your car (Gasoline UP 7.9%), feeding your family (Food UP 1.7%), heating your home (Fuel UP 3.9%) and clothing yourself and your kids are ALL up dramatically in 2010 - but since MOST of these costs are not included, they don't really matter (to the Federal Government).  The above percentage increases above are from the BLS CPI November 2010 Report.

So why would the Government want to keep the reported CPI low?

*  Marketing 101:  If you tell people something long enough, they might just believe it - keeping the public's perceived rate of inflation LOW is good, right?

*  Marketing 102:  Since many govermental expenses are tied to CPI (Social Security benefits for one), the Feds are REDUCING their expenses by under-reporting increases in the Consumer Price Index.  Why pay someone a cost of living increase of 7.5% when you can get away with a 1.1% increase annually?  It's a 'numbers' thing.

*  Marketing 103:  The Federal Government has 'Veracity Issues' to begin with.  When something works for you, stick with it.  Go ahead, LIE, you've been doing it for years.

So what if you included the costs omitted by the Federal Government in calculating CPI?  Well, things track a bit differently. 

In a chart provided by ShadowStats.com, the RED line represents the CPI numbers published by the BLS.  Alternatively, the BLUE line includes the cost increases associated by inclusion of Energy, Food, and Housing. 


Given these additional variables the Annual Consumer Inflation Rate appears to be somewhere in excess of 7.5% for the period of January through November, 2010 vs. the 1.1% Inflation rate touted by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.   blog post photo

I guess that if we were being honest with each other (US and the FEDS) we would put the 2010 Inflation Rate in excess of 7.5% for the year.   Will we ever be honest with each other?

Nah.  What fun would THAT be?

In governing, HONESTY is over-rated.


Given that gas and food are continuing their skyward ascent, anyone want to place a bet as to what 2011's official "Inflation Rate" will be?  As for me, I'm going with 1.6%

If the Bureau of Labor Statistics can make stuff up, shoot, I can too. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

EPA, EPA, EPA!!!



Yes, I know the subtitles are distracting, and the audio is pretty bad, but seriously, what better way to introduce the following???

Found this on The Foundry website at Heritage.org earlier today: 

EPA Blocks Oil Drilling in Alaska
There are an estimated 27 billion barrels of oil waiting to be tapped in the Arctic Ocean, off the coast of Alaska. But after spending five years and nearly $4 billion, Shell Oil Company has been forced to abandon its efforts to drill for oil in the region.

With gas at $4 per gallon and higher, one might think that more oil would be a good thing. So what’s the road block? The Environmental Protection Agency.
...

The EPA is withholding necessary air permits because of a one square mile village of 245 people, 70 miles from the off-shore drilling site.
...

The EPA’s appeals board ruled that Shell had not taken into consideration emissions from an ice-breaking vessel when calculating overall greenhouse gas emissions from the project. Environmental groups were thrilled by the ruling.

“What the modeling showed was in communities like Kaktovik, Shell’s drilling would increase air pollution levels close to air quality standards,” said Eric Grafe, Earthjustice’s lead attorney on the case.
...

The Environmental Appeals Board has four members: Edward Reich, Charles Sheehan, Kathie Stein and Anna Wolgast.

All are registered Democrats and Kathie Stein was an activist attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund. Members are appointed by the EPA administrator, Lisa P. Jackson.

So what does Lisa P. Jackson do?  Great question! 

Let's follow her through last week and Earth (Founded by Ira 'Didn't mean to kill my girlfriend, but hey, stuff happens, you know' Einhorn) Day festivities!

The following is found on the EPA.gov site:

This week Administrator Lisa P. Jackson toured the country to listen to Americans and help bring awareness around the environmental issues that affect them.

· April 18: Administrator Jackson announced the formation of EPA’s Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships initiative. Strong relationships with faith and neighborhood organizations will help promote environmental stewardship that will lead to cleaner communities, encourage healthier families and build a stronger America. 

Moos Note:  What about that whole separation of Church and State thing I keep hearing some much about?

· April 19: Administrator Jackson and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with farmers and ranchers in Iowa to discuss EPA and USDA’s joint efforts to ensure that American agriculture continues to be productive. Agriculture is part of the foundation of the American economy. EPA’s mission to safeguard clean air, clear water and productive land is a critical part of sustaining farming jobs and productivity.
Moos Note:  I'm pretty sure that farmers and ranchers have a WHOLE LOT MORE concern for their livestock and crops than a bureaucrat from DC does - it's what they DO for a living.·

April 20: Administrator Jackson traveled to New Orleans to tour a wetlands restoration project on the Mississippi/Louisiana shore line on the one year anniversary of the BP oil spill. She later joined a group of community members for a tour of a successful marsh restoration project at Bayou Dupont. Also, EPA awarded nearly $300,000 in grants to gulf region organizations that are helping educate residents about health and environmental concerns following the spill.
Moos Note:  Yes, mustn't forget the 'Giving money away to people who act properly' portion of the week.  Luckily for us it was ONLY $300k.  But, hey, it's a per week give-away, right???  What's $300k x 52 weeks a year?  Ah, never mind, it'll just make me sad.

· April 21: Administrator Jackson is joining Philadelphia Mayor Nutter to highlight green infrastructure by focusing on the Big Green Block initiative, a collaborative sustainability project at and around Shissler Recreation Center. Green infrastructure reduces water pollution by capturing and filtering rain runoff using green roofs, permeable materials, alternative street and building design, trees, rain gardens and rain harvesting systems.
Moos Note:  Yeah, that's what I want to do - drink 'filtered' rain runoff from shingles in Philadelphia, PA.  I don't drink BEER made in Philly; let alone 'roof water' from around Shissler Recreation Center... 

· April 22: Administrator Jackson will visit the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. to learn about the zoo’s innovative sustainability efforts.
Moos Note:  Ms. Jackson was shocked to learn that Zoo Animals 'poop' while in captivity.  The EPA is ordering the release of zoo animals nationwide in order to 'GreenScape' these zoos by removing anything 'brown' in color.  In the future, anyone wishing to see Zoo animals can order them via DVD from www.epa.gov/historychannelDVDstore.

p.s.:  I made that last part up.  

Okay, so here's the deal:  Gas prices are going through the roof (by design) so it's really not a surprise when the EPA tells an oil company they can't drill HERE (anywhere people, animal, fish, spores, molds, or fungus, live).  Fine.  

Just as long as the White House understands that the BILLIONS which come in from gas taxes are at risk if we're not driving as much because we can't afford it.  So be it.

If it wasn't so serious, it'd be laughable.

Turning Japanese

As some of you already know, my middle son, whom we'll hypothetically call "Jon", finished Navy Boot Camp at Great Lakes, Illinois Mid-March, 2011. 

This is that boy...


He then traveled from the frozen wasteland of Illinois to San Antonio, Texas (can I have a "Yee-Haw"!?) for Navy "A-School" training. 

He's been enjoying the freedom associated with being OUT of Boot Camp and has been doing 'really well' in A-School.  Surprisingly, it turns out that he likes being able to use a phone, fish, watch TV, eat real food, and view DVD's in on-base-housing.  Each of these things was un-thinkable prior to his commencement from Boot Camp.  Life for the past five weeks has been pretty good for him. 

He called last week to tell us what was 'up next' on his list of things to do. 

"I'll be getting my orders on Wednesday of this week." he said.

"Where do you think you'll go kiddo?" I asked.

"I don't know, but the last group had some guys go to Hawaii, Virginia, and Kings Bay, Georgia." he answered.

"Sounds like some nice places to spend a couple of years..."

"I'll let you know," he said. 

We said our goodbyes and the phone went silently back into its charging base. 

The next da my cell phone rang as I was driving back to the office.  My boy had gotten his orders. 

Hawaii?  No.

Virginia?  No.

Georgia? No.

I learned that you 'pick your orders' based upon your academic standing in your class.  As referenced above, Jon's done pretty well, and was the third sailor to pull his order's 'choice' out of the hat. 

Two choices were offered last week: 

Choice One:  Bahrain 

Choice Two:  Japan

He told me this as I was driving.  In response, I pulled the car off onto the shoulder of the road as my mind got 'stupid'.  It stopped working. 

I sat in my car gawking at nothing as traffic sped past my immobilized Chrysler on the shoulder of I-81.  My brain sputtered, and then it 'seized'. 

"Dad?"

"Yeah, Jon?"

"Are you there?" he asked.

"No.  I don't think I am."  I said (at least I think I did).

The rest of the call remains a blur.  One word did stick, however:  "Japan". 

My boy is going to Japan for four years. 

No road trips to visit him in Georgia, Virginia, or flights to Hawaii - his next stop:  The Land of the Rising Sun, Tsunamis, devastation, and nuclear reactor melt-downs.

My head began processing again as I spoke to him on the phone later that evening.  As it turns out that he was okay with his decision.  He was even joking with his Mom and I as we spoke with him. 

He asked us to set up a SKYPE session on the laptop.  He said that he had some photos to send to show us what he'd be doing in Japan. 

"Dad, know what my job is?" 

"No, my head froze after you told me you were going to Japan."  I answered.

"Harbor patrol."  he said.

"I'll send you a photo of one of the ships I'll be on" he said.

This is that photo...
Yes, this is the photo my son sent me.  My wife and I looked at each other, shook our heads, and then we got very quiet.   

Then he laughed.

"No Dad, that's a joke.  I'll be on one of these..." he said as the following arrived on my desktop:
"Well, that's a little better.  At least it has weapons on it.  Do they have a larger one?  Something with helicopters, jets, really big guns, or cruise missiles?" I asked. 

"Dad, I'll be in a 'Harbor Patrol' ship, not an Aircraft Carrier."  He said.  It sounded like he was laughing as he said it.

"Okay, so what will you be doing?" I asked.

"I'll either be piloting the ship, or manning the gun."  He said.  

Then he sent the following photo:
"Do you guys always have to look so serious?" I asked.

"Dad, it's part of the gig," he said. 

And with that, it was done.  My son had made me 'better'.  With the last comment, I knew he would be okay.

"It's part of the gig," he said.

Yeah, I guess it is.

Like it or not, another of my three boys has become a man.  While I wish I could keep each of my boys safe for the rest of their lives, the reality is that at some point you feel yourself moving from being an active participant, to an assistant, to the ultimate destination, a spectator.

I'm really happy that each of these guys call me Dad.  Whether they're calling local, long distance, or internationally, it doesn't matter - wherever they land I'll still be their biggest fan.  

p.s.:  When I asked him why he chose Japan over Bahrain, he sent the following image in response:


He always did have an 'economy' for the language...

Have a nice day folks.

Mike