September 30, 2004

A Wedding

My family took in a few weddings without me the past few weeks. Two of my cousins had weddings recently, and I just got an invitation to a third today. Here's a picture of the crew at the first of what seems to be many. Oh, and Katrina was in the thing, so that explains the out of character dress.

September 29, 2004

Can it be?

Could the Angels really be in first place again? It's true, they sit tied with Oakland atop the American League West. I've been wearing the Rally Monkey shirt occasionally for the past two years, but I may have to whip it out again in force for the playoffs. Let's hope the Angels hold off the A's for that last playoff berth. Then, my Rally Monkey crew can bring out the shirts and relive the good old days of 2002.

Vote....or Don't

Interesting article here from my good friends at Slate. It's all about how your vote doesn't count...sort of. It's short and entertaining, so give it a read. Here's my favorite line to whet your appetite:

"If Kerry (or Bush) has just a slight edge, so that each of your fellow voters has a 51 percent likelihood of voting for him, then your chance of casting the tiebreaker is about one in 1.4 times 10 to the 1,046th power—approximately the same chance you have of winning the Powerball jackpot 128 times in a row."

Enjoy

September 27, 2004

Am I mentally ill?

Before you answer, consider the evidence:
My neck hurts, my back hurts, I have red marks all over my body. One of these marks is about 8 inches long, on the top of my left thigh, and came from my right shoe. I scored twice the whole time I wrestled, yet I can't wait to go back. Have I mentioned how tired I am? I'm telling you, wrestling is a disease. It gets inside of you and you can't shake it off, not after 12 years of competition like me. For that reason, I'll take my seriously out of practice self and go wrestle with a guy who is better than every guy I ever actually competed against, save one. For now, I'm grateful that I am still young and healthy enough that I'm able to do this sort of thing on a semi-regular basis, because I know that someday my body will be too old, slow, or both to stay with guys like Jerrod. Just keep in mind that I only know one guy like a guy I knew named Loren, who would come and wrestle with the high school guys whenever he got the chance, even as he approached 50. For all I know, he's still at it, though he's got to be closer to 55 by now. He used to beat me when I was young, but by the end of high school, we didn't wrestle so much, but he still held his own with a lot of kids that he probably shouldn't have at his age. He's definitely the exception, as well as exhibit A for what taking care of your body can do for you. As for me, I want to stay involved with the sport as long as I can, in some capacity. I think I'll find a way.

September 25, 2004

Unions, Title IX, and the NEA

If you've been paying attention to Vikki's blog lately, you'll know that she has decided not to join the teacher's union in her district. This is good news from my perspective. I tend to be anti-union for two reasons. One, like Vikki said, she's glad she has her own freedom, and doesn't have to bend to their will. Second, nearly every union is pointed politically in a direction that I find disheartening. Some may say that the union is the only way to protect these workers. To that I say, yes, maybe back when the Rockefellers and Gettys ruled the earth, but the economy and the workplace is an everchanging place. Is some of the progress achieved up to now the doing of labor unions? Undoubtedly, but that doesn't mean they still have to exist in their historical form. For teachers, the existence of the union seems to be counterintuitive. Isn't the purpose of a union to protect the jobs of its members? There is a serious teacher shortage in this country, and the shortage of competent teachers is even more severe. If there were more teachers than opportunities, and programs like Teach for America did not exist due to this shortage, perhaps the union might have a valid purpose. Now, I'm sure someone reading this could give me some anecdote about the time the teacher's union saved them or someone they know, but I'm not interested in isolated stories. I'm looking at this from a big-picture perspective about what is best for the country as well as the people the education system allegedly benefits: the students. In a market with a shortage of workers, the workers hold the power. Why has the educational system failed to catch up to the rest of the labor force. You didn't see electrical engineers forming unions in the 1980s. Of course you didn't. There was no need for a union when there were plenty of jobs available. If the working conditions deteriorated to an unacceptable level, the workers went elsewhere. I admit this analogy has some shortcomings, as a failing company may simply shut down, but the Wake County School System can't very well close up shop. The point is this: if Vikki is mistreated by her school, go to a different one. There are over 50 million elementary and high school students in this country. The opportunities are there.

This brings me to the NEA and Title IX. I would hope a conservative Christian like Vikki would resist the entreaties from this organization as she has with the teacher's union. At this point, the NEA is a large organization that is primarily an arm of the Democratic Party and secondarily focused on providing high quality education for America's students. For example, they have called certain court cases outlawing school vouchers "deciding in favor of children." The idea of vouchers is to allow parents to choose where they send their children, perhaps in order to get the best education possible. If denying them this opportunity is in the child's favor, I'd hate to see what they called a detriment. This organization has also toes the party line on Title IX, the most destructive piece of athletic legislation in the history of public education. The law itself isn't so bad, but the way it has been interpreted is incorrect and is destroying college athletics in this country. Since 1972, 442 college wrestling teams have been eliminated, many due to Title IX regulations. This means that more programs have been canceled in the last 30 years than there are currently wrestling teams in all three divisions of the NCAA, the NAIA, and Junior Colleges. Understand, now, that Title IX was created to allow women to have athletic and other educational opportunities. This is a noble goal, and it has largely been reached in this country, but the cost continues to be astronomical. I don't want to eliminate a single athletic program for me or women. Everyone should have the opportunity to try to be on an athletic team. The NEA tackles Title IX on their website with a laughable FAQ, the last question of which says that Title IX has not hurt men's programs. I personally know two people who had their wrestling team cut out from under them while they were in college. Read this chart and tell the people on the 435 athletic teams dropped since just the 2000 Olympics that Title IX does not hurt men's sports teams.

What a drag

Janet is working at Oakview today. Yes, it's Saturday. It's one of the things she has to do. She only works every few weeks on a Saturday, so I'll live with it, especially is I have to hear less stories about her boss at the library (they're good, but good when happening to someone you don't share an apartment with; they're better if they happen to someone you don't like). She's flying solo today at her job, though I doubt it will be too hectic on a weekend. You could go check it out if you're curious as to what exactly this Oakview place is. Perhaps I'll have more to say when the day is not so young.

September 22, 2004

Deplane

What's with the word deplane? I saw it in an article today, and it got me thinking. Do you plan and deplane? No. You board and deplane. You can't plane. It's just a weird word. When I leave in the morning, I don't dehouse. Then, when I get to work, I don't decar.

In other news, Cat Stephens was arrested after boarding a plane from London to N.Y. They rerouted the plane to the closest airport, which was Bangor, Maine, at the time, and pulled him off. Seems he's on the no-fly list for his support of certain Muslim groups with murky connections. Old Cat is a Muslim now, and he doesn't go by Cat Stephens anymore. This is only mildly noteworthy to most people, but it caught my eye, as the bridesmaids in my wedding walked down the aisle to "Morning has Broken," a Cat Stephens tune. Check this guy out:

September 20, 2004

40 Years in Bed?

Charlie's grandfather in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory had supposedly not been out of bed walking in a very long time. Then, Charlie wins the prize, and all the sudden, grandpa decides to give it another shot. Why wasn't he doing this before? I know I would have, especially if I was sharing the bed with my wife and the other set of grandparents. Of course, after a bit of wobbling, he's able to walk around. By the next day he's running and jumping and floating and all that stuff. If I were Charlie, I'd be kicking myself that I hadn't thought of making a fake golden ticket years ago to get the old bum out of bed.

Here's a few tidbits. Did you know that movie was filmed in 1971? I sure as heck didn't until right now. I've probably seen it a hundred times without ever considering when it was made. Also, the actor who played Grandpa Joe was "the Man" of Chico and the Man fame. Chico was Freddie Prinze, who unfortunately left the world with a son who has so far made a career of being in movies targeted at 15-21 year old girls. Grandpa Joe died in 1981 on the day after Thanksgiving, and he is one of only three actors to have won an Emmy, and Oscar, and a Tony award.

September 18, 2004

Sing the lyrics below to this tune while cheering on the good guys.

Fight the team across the field
Show them Ohio's here,
Set the earth reverberating
With a mighty cheer,
Rah! Rah! Rah!
Hit them hard and see how they fall,
Never let that team get the ball,
Hail, hail, the gang's all here,
So let's win that old conference now.

September 17, 2004

Privatization of Social Security

This has been a hot topic lately, and people on both sides have some points to make. There's a lot of opinion floating around, but there are some facts as well. Among these facts:
1. Social Security, in its current form, will run out of money long before I retire
2. It is not difficult for an individual to take the money he would have spent on Social Security and turn it into an amount much greater than his potential Social Security benefit
3. America is not a nation of savers, which is a problem for some people should privatization become a reality, unless the contributions are still mandatory
4. Private investing does not guarantee income until death, which Social Security, for all its flaws, does
5. If a single man dies after his children grow up, but before he retires, he and his heirs forfeit thousands of dollars paid into Social Security because that benefit, unlike stocks, bonds, and savings, is not bequeathable
6. Any privatization plan has to account for the people who have paid the most into Social Security and are nearing retirement at the time of the plan's implementation
7. Many retirees (but not most) live solely on their Social Security benefit

All that said, I'm totally for the privatization of Social Security. I've done some of the calculations, and I could do a lot better for me and my family if I could hook up some of that 6% of my income up to stocks and bonds instead of a crippled government plan. I guess a lot of this goes back to my capitalist leanings. I'm all for competition and supply and demand. I've written a pretty long post some months ago that you can see in the archives on March 4th. Anything socialized just rubs me the wrong way, and a dying system of funding my retirement seems like a good target. Socialized health care isn't one of my favorites either, but that's another post altogether. America is allegedly a meritocracy, where your success is determined by your abilities and hard work. The part of me that likes that America wants it to stay that way. Of course, I want there to be safeguards for the infirm, and supporting capitalism doesn't mean supporting the abolishment of all federal programs, but it does mean supporting the idea of smaller goverment and trying to control the national debt, which seems to be the Gordian Knot of the New Economy (I'll give you a quarter if you know what the Gordian Knot is).

I've really gotten into finance since I've had a job and I've had the chance to think about investing and retirement. The Motley Fool is a great place to look for financial advice, and there are a few articles I read that inspired me to think about Social Security. People make good arguments for and against privatization. Privatization is a very Republican idea, which is not surprising. In general, Republicans want you to have responsibility for your own money, while Democrats are more inclined to have you send money to the government, so that government can use the money as it sees fit. Obviously, you can't throw everyone who calls himself a Republican in one basket, and every Democrat in another. I'm just talking about general tendencies. The article I read summed up some of the reader response to a previous article. Some said that they want to be able to reap the benefits of the money that they earn by investing their 6% as they see fit. Others say that it's called "Social" Security and not "Personal" Security. It's fairly obvious into which political parties these two people fall. It's an issue worth exploring for anyone who has ever wondered if he'll ever see his 6% again.

September 16, 2004

Happy Birthday

My sister is 22 today. Of course, she probably doesn't read this, since she needs major help when it comes to anything having to do with computers. She can check email, though, I think. Anyhow, a happy birthday to her in her studio apartment with a kitchenette. I'll have to stop in and see it when I'm in town in December for the big Mike and Debbie 25th Anniversary Spectacular.

My friend Lisa gets to be 23 tomorrow. She and my sister get to be the same age for today and today only. Lisa signed up to run a marathon, and she's in medical school. I'd be President by now if I had that much dedication. Instead, I get to cook dinner for Janet every night, which is good. That Alton Brown, he's something else.

September 15, 2004

I amazed it took this long

I spilled ketchup on my shirt at lunch today. I've been working here since May, and this is my first culinary mishap at the office. Of course, I don't usually have ketchup, so my batting average in lunches including ketchup is not so hot. Anyway, the big question now is whether I've ruined another shirt. I managed to get most of the ketchup out with soap and water in the bathroom, but it's not all gone. Here's hoping stain stick and a little love with do the rest.

September 13, 2004

One of the greatest of all time

Billy: Whoa! Who's the Senorita? She's cute.
Ted: It's his mom, dude.
Billy: Oh.
Missy: Hi guys.
Bill: Hi Missy…I mean Mom.
Ted: Uh, Mrs. Preston we'd like you to meet some of our friends.
Bill: Yeah, this is uh Dave Beethoven, and Maxine of Arc, Herman the Kid.
Ted: Bob Genghis Khan, Socrates Johnson, Dennis Freud and, uh, Abraham Lincoln.
Missy: Well it's nice to meet all of you. There are soda's in the fridge.

This is one of the best movies ever, and one of my top three personal favorites. One of the other two is Pee Wee's Big Adventure, and I'm not sure what the third one is. Every time I read the weather in the past few weeks, I had the following exchanges running through my head.

Pee Wee: Where's Francis!?
Servant: He's having his bath.
Pee Wee: Oh yeah? Where are they hosing him down at?

-and-

Francis: Help, Help!
Pee Wee: Go ahead and scream your head off, we're miles from where anyone can here you!

September 11, 2004

Who gets a cold in the middle of summer?

Janet, that's who. She picked something up at work, since she said a bunch of students were sniffling. I guess when you spend your time around a bunch of college students (not a group known for making healthy choices) you're bound to pick something up every once in a while. She's been sneezing and blowing and everything else that goes along with a cold. She takes her anti cold medicine, but there's only so much over the counter pharmaceuticals can accomplish. She's in fairly good spirits, though, and we're both pretty sure she'll survive.

Speaking of college health, is there a group of people who do more to destroy their own health than college students. Staying up all night, smoking, drinking, maybe some drugs here and there. Add that to the fact this is the first time they've cooked for themselves, and it's Disneyland for viruses. Also, most of them aren't exercising. I admit to occasionally not getting enough sleep, but the rigors of wrestling generally kept me in bed at a reasonable hour and eating mostly healthy food. However, my infrequent forays into the health danger zone are nothing compared to some kids. I knew people that were never in bed before 2, regardless of that 8 AM class the next morning. These people also weren't getting their five a day fruits and vegetables, unless you count Easy Mac, which really isn't even cheese. The dining hall was their only savior. They complained about old Lottie Nelson, but the old girl kept them alive for four (ok, sometimes five) years of college without ever contracting scurvy, and I doubt it was the Tropical Starburst giving them their vitamin C.

September 10, 2004

Just the facts, ma'am

Here is a news column that attempts to answer some of the questions concerning John Kerry's service in Vietnam. The author admits to being a Kerry opponent, but this set of questions and answers seems to have a lot more actual evidence in it than most of what I've read concerning his service. I'm not going to draw any conclusions from it, but I posted it here since it gives a good introduction to the issue, and it seems to be making an attempt at fairness, which is way more than you can say about the New York Times this election season.

September 9, 2004

Sometimes the weekend....

can't get here soon enough. This has been a week like that. I think the whole holiday and all the rain threw me off somehow. It's been a pretty exhausting week. I haven't slept that well either. Hopefully, I can make a strong rebound next week and get going. I should do my homework this weekend. I'm going to try pretty hard to do at least part of it. See, it's not due until the 21st, which is not good for my motivation, but I really should do it. Maybe Janet can do some reading in one chair while I do some work in the other. We'll call it family time.

I guess I've just had a lot on my mind lately with work, school, and a few other things. It is good to have Janet on normal work hours now. Waiting for her until she got off at 8 was no fun at all.

The NFL kicks off today. I will be rooting for my beloved Cowboys when they play Minnesota on Sunday, and I'll be rooting against the Patriots so every sportscaster can shut up about how great they are. I saw some reader write in to a columnist saying Tom Brady was the #5 quarterback of all time. I don't think throwing 30 8 yard hooks a game makes you a great player, but that's just me. Frankly, if he was an average to below average looking guy, I don't think there would be such a big fuss about him.

September 8, 2004

Is President Bush Smart?

My dad brings up an interesting point. Well, he was talking about the Baldwin brothers, but I'm interested in the intelligence of the President. I think the answer to the following question says a lot about your views on politics: Is the President smart? Frankly, I think there's only one answer. Feel free to disagree with some of his choices and policies, but calling him dumb is refusing to think yourself. As my dad said, the President has multiple degrees from a college with a pretty good reputation. Not only that, he managed to start an oil exploration company, buy a professional baseball team, unseat an incumbent governor, and get himself elected President of the United States. You might think of him as a lot of negative things, but dumb is the hardest one for me to swallow.

There's also the question of the election. 105 million people voted in 2000, and a little less than half voted for Bush. Did 50 million eligible American voters elect a half-wit? Read the first paragraph if you're not sure of the answer.

September 7, 2004

I hate my eyes

I put in my last pair of contacts on Monday. The pair I had on was getting old, so I threw them out and put in new ones. Now my box is empty. I went to 1-800-CONTACTS to refill my prescription, assuming I would have to put my eye doctor's name in the order so they could make sure I had a prescription and wasn't using my contacts to kill manatees or something (I don't know, what do I need a prescription for? They're little pieces of plastic. I can't imagine someone buying them if they didn't need them.) Unfortunately, I got an email today cancelling my order becuase my prescription is expired. I can't exactly go to the doctor, since he's in Ohio and all, and I don't need a new prescription, I just want the old one. Unfortunately, I think I might have to go to a new eye doctor here. I'll give Dr. Nguyen a call tomorrow and see what they have to say about all of this.

Welcome to Mr. Stow

It had to happen sooner or later. My Dad has joined the blogging bandwagon as Mr. Stow. You can find him in the links at the right as usual. Let's hope he stays on top of this better than the erstwhile Mr. Hillner. He also moves into position as the second oldest blogger in my links, replacing James Barley, but still trailing Dave Barry, though that race has closed up significantly.

September 6, 2004

Days Off

Today is the first holiday I've taken at work. I took a day off when my parents were in town, and I took off a week last month for vacation, but today is the first holiday. I went in on Memorial Day, and I went in on July 5th. Obviously, a lot of places were open on July 5th, but a lot of places were closed, too. Today was a good day to take off. Janet and I both had the chance to do some serious relaxing, even though the weather was quite rainy. We might have played some tennis if the rain ever stopped, but we'll just have to play some other time. I feel like I didn't really get anything productive done today, but aren't holidays for putting off the productive? I had planned to start my first homework assignment for my class, but I ended up bagging that idea pretty quick. I have two and a half weeks now to do it, so I'm sure I'll find the time while I'm at home and Janet is working until 8 or having class until 9 next Monday.

After that, Janet is done with the library, at least on a full time basis. She'll be starting her new job at the Oakview Historic Park in southeast Raleigh. It's only 2 days a week and one weekend a month, but it is experience in her chosen field, which is a must. If she ever plans to work full time in history, this experience will prove invaluable, as her prior experience is likely what landed her this job in the first place.

September 4, 2004

Gonzo

Tim "Skippy" Hillner's Link is history, after he missed the 12am EDT deadline last night. Let that be a lesson to the rest of you. Remember, you should blog every day, or at least try.

So there's this thing

And it's called the Farmers' Market. It's been there the whole time we've lived in North Carolina, but we never went until today. Stupid Us. Everything there was ridiculously cheap. Bell peppers are usually in the neighborhood of 2.00 to 2.50, but they were 75 cents at the market. I bought 2 oz. of cumin for less than what one costs in the store. We got 5 tomatoes, 3 bell peppers, one other pepper, four zucchini, 2 other squash, and the spice for less than seven dollars. Try doing that at the local megamart. They also had all sorts of stuff you don't see in the stores, like white eggplant. We'll probably go back tomorrow. Too bad we found it so close to the end of the summer, so we'll have to go back to the store during the winter.

September 3, 2004

Okay, something to post about

Let's all shed a tear for Brooke's "packed" MWF schedule. Can you believe she has to be in class for four straight hours on those days? Break out the caffeine pills. Four hours might seem like a lot to college students, but just wait until they get jobs where they're expected to, gasp, work eight hours a day. I guess she'll just have to console herself with the single class on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Eh, four in a row sounds like a lot, at least in college. I've done it, and it's less than fun. I much preferred my senior year when I had 13 credits in the fall and 12 in the spring. Of course, my "packed" schedule wasn't packed with comm courses, which are pretty much a joke, even to the people who take them. I know, I've asked. I also remember Janet's comm major roommate skipping an awful lot of senior level classes without any ill effect.

Music, et. al.

Today's music selection is Running Down a Dream by Tom Petty. Good stuff. Of course, Tom usually has some good stuff, even though he somehow manages to sing without moving his mouth.

Three day weekend. Nice. I'm looking forward to taking a little bit of relaxation. Of course, I'll do some of my recently assigned homework as well. Nothing much to post about right now, so I'll leave it at this: maybe I'll post more later.

September 1, 2004

Music of the Day

Today's music selection is Rock Spectacle by Barenaked Ladies. This is a good live CD of a concert. It's worth owning for the rendition of Brian Wilson. If you hear it, stick around after the end of the last song to hear them talk about the woman asking directions to the theater. After you hear that, some of the variations of If I had $1000000 make more sense.

Perhaps I'll make my music of the day a running feature, or maybe I'll make it something like movies or music of the day. Either way, expect listening and viewing suggestions for the future.

Oh, and by the way

Tim "Skippy" Hillner has until Friday to post something in his blog or be thrown off my links like the dead weight it is.

James, you are behind the times

You think I've never heard Stacy's Mom before. You silly, silly boy. I was just bringing it up to jog everyone's memory. It's like if I said that you should all go see Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. That doesn't mean I've never seen it before, just that it's good stuff.

Anyhow, my life has been moderately exciting recently, but that's cool. I've been feeling good about working out, and I'm all excited for the NC State wrestling team to start practice so I can join them. I'm less than thrilled with my class this semester, but I'd be less than thrilled with any class. Nothing about school appeals to me anymore, but I slog along into my sixth year of college.

Messiah College is back in the game, starting yesterday. Welcome back to them, though I'm not there to welcome them back. The place has changed, even since I left. Just since May of 2003, they have a new student union, new academic building, new wrestling coach, no president, and no Mitch. The first three are good so far, the fourth, not so much, and the jury's still out on the fifth.