Monthly Archives: November 2016

A Little Craziness to Pass the Time of Day

The healthcare industry, recently in the news for egregious price increases, is reportedly spending hundreds of million dollars. Reports are that there are up to six lobbyists for every legislator in Washington. Estimates are that they are spending $300 million to $400 million on lobbyists. Add to that the nearly $60 billion (that’s billion with a “B” as in $60,000,000,000) they spend on advertising). Reportedly they allocate $61,000 per physician for marketing purposes. The money put into advertising is almost double (1.82 times) the amount spent on research and development.

So, ask your doctors if payments and swag from big pharmaceutical companies is right for them.

Steven Segal—trained in the martial arts and one time “actor” in action films—was recently granted Russian citizenship and a Russian passport by Vladimir Putin. Chuck Norris would not only say “No,” but “Hell no!”

Horoscopes in the newspaper are often headlined, “If You Were Born Today.” But, if you actually were born today, wouldn’t you be too young to be able to read?

Now back to our regular crazy world already in progress?

Asking the Wrong Questions

I rely on critical thinking to understand issues.

Critical thinking takes some effort—not a lot, but some. Unfortunately, it seems like more people reach conclusions based on emotions than data. Now there’s nothing wrong with emotions; they are powerful and probably what makes us human. However, emotions are rarely a useful tool for understanding or solving problems.

Take the issue of global warming. To convince us it’s real, we are exposed to unverifiable claims and sad photos of Arctic animals whose world is melting. Many respond by feeling that global warming is real and humans caused it.

On the other hand, dealing with data takes effort to reach a conclusion. According to ongoing measurements conducted by the US Navy, the sea level near Norfolk, VA has risen 18 inches in the past century. The Navy has added a second level to their piers to deal with projected increases in the sea level. Quantitative data was collected, analyzed, conclusions and recommendations found, and appropriate action taken.

But there’s something missing when compared to the media’s focus on global warming.

[Take a moment to think—what’s missing?]

There’s no focus on whether humans caused it or not. Why?

It doesn’t matter.

Whether or not people are the cause, they can be the solution. People don’t cause hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes. However, when such events occur, humans can clean up, rebuild, and mitigate future occurrences.

Therefore, I suggest we stop arguing about the cause of global warming and focus on correcting it. Fix it first, then we can leisurely assign blame.

Dreams

The most wonderful things in life make no sense.

For some it may be jewelry, shoes, or handbags. For others, it may be hunting gear or tricked-out oversized pickup trucks. We humans all have our illogical, impossible dreams.

For me—it’s boats.

Let me admit, right off the bat, I do not have the time or the money for a boat. After all, a boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money. However, logic not only does not have a vote, it is persona non-grata.

My father was an aviation electricians mate who came of age at the end of World War II. He enlisted, but never deployed to sea. I was a dirt Sailor (and proud of it, thank you), working with the expeditionary logistics forces—boots on the ground in theater. Over 28 and ½ years I begged to be assigned to sea duty, but the Navy had better use for me, and they were smarter than me.

My oldest son is the first in our family who has actually served on a United States ship-of-the-line at sea.

But I digress (as usual).

There is something about boats; I grew up near Lake Erie. I now live on the Atlantic Coast. I have this totally illogical, stupid, indefensible thing for boats. Let me explain:

Mark Harmon (who is my age—or to be precise, six days older than me) as Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS is known for building boats in his basement; only Abby has figured out how he gets them out of the basement, but hasn’t disclosed that.

My father on the other hand built a boat on our front porch with one inch clearance (really!) to remove her from the porch. It was so unusual that the Toledo Blade had a story on it. That boat (incidentally, never named) imprinted something on me at a very elemental level. Boats would forever be part of my soul.

Being made of wood, the boat my father built didn’t last long; it wasn’t the water—it was the winters. Eventually, no longer seaworthy, she was broken up.

I rarely saw my father cry except when the love of his life—my mother—died. Nevertheless, I suspect that he was deeply affected by the end of that boat’s life. As you would expect, my father had a number of other small craft after her. However, although he owned other boats, they were just boats—useful, fun, functional—but just boats.

Like some who dream of winning the lottery, I dream of “the” boat. I dream of a totally impossible, impractical boat that I could pilot, but which has a galley, head, shower, sleeping areas, heated and air conditioned, with all the latest technology. The whole family—my children, grandchildren, plus a few of their friends could enjoy being there.

It’s a nice dream—and dreams should always be nice.

Bathroom Humor

If there really was a right way and a wrong way to hang toilet paper, wouldn’t they make the roll and hardware so it would only fit the correct way?

Likewise, wouldn’t the toilet seat automatically return to the “proper and correct” position on its own?

When the sign in the restroom says “Employees must wash hands before returning to work” does that apply only to the employees of that particular establishment or does it mean everyone who is employed anywhere?

How is it that we can fit computers into the palm of our hands but we can’t design a paper towel dispenser that provides a reasonable sized, unshredded paper towel?

Is it fair to expect people to learn how to use their feet to adjust the bathtub faucets on their own? As a critical life skill, shouldn’t it be part of the public-school curriculum?

In the twenty-first century, why do plumbing repairs demand brute strength or sweating (soldering) copper pipes? Why don’t we just have snap-in modules?

And finally,

If the invisible man used a modern public restroom, would the automatic toilet, faucet and soap dispenser work? If not, how would an invisible MacGyver handle it?

 

 

It’s Over

The election is over—and what does that really mean?

Our telephone is ringing a lot less (even though if the caller ID gave the slightest hint of a pollster, we didn’t answer).

Speaking of the pollsters, a lot of them are busily explaining how they really were right, even though they came to the wrong conclusion, because . . . .

The credibility of the media has sunk to an all-time low, and considering where they were two weeks ago, that’s pretty amazing.

As I’ve said in the past:

1. It takes a whole different set of skills to run for office than to execute the office.

2. After each president-elect has been briefed on the story behind the story behind the headlines, it’s pretty obvious that they view reality quite differently.

And the future?

In 1976 during the United States bicentennial, I realized that our system is flawed and imperfect, but it works. Yes, we’ve had the gridlock, sequestration, and government shutdowns of the past few years. However, it really does work, and it works better than most other systems of government. Our democratic republic (it’s not a democracy—that would require that the entire nation vote on every single decision, right down to declaring National Prune Week) inspired most other free forms of government. Some have a parliament rather than a congress, but the basic concept is the same—that the government has authority from the consent of the governed.

There will be bumps. Some politicians will continue to cater to the special interests and the media instead of the nation they have sworn to serve. But all we need is for enough of them to do the right thing some of the time. Some Americans (and others) will have a hard time adjusting, especially after the “sure thing” conclusion didn’t happen, but this, too, has happened before; Headlines announced that Dewey defeated Truman—when he didn’t.

The bottom line is that we’re Americans—be proud of it. We’ll figure it out. We always do.

And, to those Americans who made our country possible; to those who wore the uniform and swore a sacred oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies—thank you for your service on this Veterans’ Day.

Undocumented Features

explo

Former Washing Machine Photo Daily Mail

Among software types there’s an old joke that programs never have bugs—merely undocumented features.

Hardware I catching up:

  • Airbags that spontaneously deploy and throw shrapnel at the car’s occupants,
  • Cars that adjust the engine to run one way during emission testing and another for regular driving,
  • Smartphones that burst into flames,
  • AND, my personal favorite—washing machines that explode

People today don’t realize how good they have it. When I was a kid, you had to do all these kinds of things the hard way—by hand. It was tough. If you wanted to blow up the washing machine, first you had to stuff the tub with a $#!+load of firecrackers with the fuses connected. There was always enough moisture left inside the washing machine so that half of them would get soggy. Still, once you lit the fuse, you had to run like hell to get out of the way. If the fuse fizzled out, you never knew how long to wait to go back and try to relight it without accidently blowing yourself up. We worked for results, and when we blew up a washing machine, we were proud!

Today, people just expect these things to happen all by themselves.

That’s Where They Are!

Like many Americans, you may be snookered into believing that all of the con artists are in politics, real estate, insurance, or finance—especially given the headlines these days. Ha! Don’t be fooled!

First, let me explain; I was a single parent when my one son was in high school; his high school friends would come over one night a week for dinner. Let me put this into perspective— was a Navy Supply Corps Officer, trained to feed the crew of an aircraft carrier (think 5,000 teenagers who don’t have immediate access to smartphones or videogames). I know how to cook under the most challenging of circumstances. After almost 20 years of marriage, even though my wife handles many of the meals, I still cook things involving fish, a wok, or anything that can be cooked outside. During July and August, that involves far more than in November. Let’s just say that when it comes to cooking, I can still hold my own.

Therefore, when I read the syndicated columnists that tell how easy it is to clean a pumpkin, well, let’s just say I’m skeptical. Their advice on how to peel a pomegranate—nature’s answer to the fragmentation grenade—I smell a rat. I grill vegetables, but there’s a reason that neither God the Father, nor His Son mentioned Brussel sprouts in either testament of the Bible, so don’t tell me they are wonderful on the grill.

Then, when some “expert” publishes an article about how to deep fry a turkey without an explosion and fire that exceeds the damage of both the Chicago and San Francisco fires, I know I’m being played for a fool.

You want con artists, sleazy individuals, and outright cheats? The cooking blogs are where to find them.