Tuesday, December 7, 2010
These guys must have ice in their veins. I wonder what they do in the event of an emergency or if they need a bathroom break. The strange thing is I can't find any evidence that this type of work is highly paid. Seems to be around 50k a year at best.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I never liked the Clintons, never voted for the Clintons. I even voted for Dole for Christ's sake. But in my minor unimportant opinion, Hillary was having the state department do what it should have been doing. Its just that no one should have found out about it. Its what the Clinton's are good at. Finding dirt on the opposition, leverage. Remember the missing FBI files? Now granted Hillary was likely looking for stuff for personal gain as well that could be used to generate generous donations to the Clinton library but at least she was taking the initiative and we don't need a sunday school teacher as secretary of state, we need a shark.
Anyway, I've gotten off track. Obama is not allowing Big Sis to push mass humiliation as a policy to prep people for the big brother government of the future, he is just doing what he thinks is best to get to 2012 without an incident that would endanger the most important thing, his legacy.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I quit my job about 5 weeks ago. I had been with the company for 14 years and I just couldn't handle it anymore. To be honest I was forced out. I have been searching the internet lately for articles by people who did the same thing and for the most part the only thing I find are advice columns about how to quit your job properly. Well I didn't do that. I left, I didn't do it smartly, I have a family to support and no job prospects as of yet.
I'm not totally screwed. I don't have very many expenses. My wife has a job and we have enough savings to survive for a while if I don't find anything. I am not ashamed that I quit. I am a hard worker, my history shows that. I worked my way through college working nights. My first job was when I was 14 years old working for a farmer making hay. I worked all through highschool working at restaurants, construction, and farm work. In college I delivered pizza, worked for UPS loading trucks, worked security and worked in a police station.
I put everything I had into the job I just quit. I worked weekends, vacation days. I put in long hours and ignored my family. My health was affected. I was afraid to leave my job and go somewhere else. My skills were out of date and I did not think I could get a similar paying job once I left. I was a software developer but in reality I had become an overpaid support person who did some development. Out of fear I kept pushing at the same company long after I should have moved on to something else.
Finally I reached a point this year where no matter how hard I worked it was not enough. Conflicts with a manager came to a head and finally about a month ago I came home one night and realized I could not go on. My blood pressure was a constant 145 over 100 I couldn't sleep, I couldn't make the simplest decisions. I talked to my wife about it and the next day I went in and handed in my resignation.
Looking back I know that all along I should have left a long time ago but I never had he courage to do it until there was no choice. I think if I would have stayed it might have killed me. It was especially hard to quit given what my own father went through. He died when I was 15 after a 7 year battle with a disease caused by a chemical he was exposed to while working in a factory. For 6 of those 7 years he managed to drag himself to work through unimaginable pain and suffering and here was I quitting due to some emotional stress. My father worked two jobs, one at a factory and one at a youth prison. After he got sick he was fired from his full time job at the factory and continued to work at the prison. It was a minimum security prison and fortunately they allowed him to work even when he could hardly walk anymore.
Maybe my father would have done the same thing. Its hard to say. My job had become a torture in which each week I had to endure being constantly berated and threatened with losing my job. I was not the perfect employee but it was not for lack of trying. I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, there were better programmers than me but I always gave it my best effort. That said I was not the worst either. Maybe my fathers job was his escape from the pain he had where mine was the cause of my pain. Maybe under the same conditions he would have done the same thing. Unfortunately I can't ask him that question.
So I quit my job. I haven't found a new job yet. I have looked but not as hard as I should. To be honest I don't know if I am more afraid of not finding a job or finding a job like what I had. When I think about going back into software development I break out in hives. First of all, getting hired in software development usually involves some lying about what your skills are. Then if you are lucky enough to get the job there is a scramble to keep your new employer from figuring out that you don't have the skills you claimed you did. A large part of software development is acting like you are the smartest person in the room even when you aren't. I have watched people with modest skills and knowledge take on the largest projects simply because they are not afraid to and they are able to convince others that they know what they are doing even if they don't. Success in programming is largely a confidence, an attitude, a willingness to go out there and fake it even when you don't know what you are doing. I don't have this. If I was cut out for this role, I would feel it, I would have a passion that would drive me. I don't.
I think that eventually I will end up in some technical support role that is not development. Or I will make it as a writer. I have been trying my had at writing short stories. I am planning on trying to get published. If I can't do writing as a profession I will do it as a hobby. I would be happy working a job for half the money I was making if I could be confident about my abilities and go home at the end of the day and not think about it.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Within the next 5 years perhaps sooner this will drop to zero. I wonder if there were any people before the 21st century who managed to live in 3 different centuries (19th, 20th, 21st). If so I can't imagine it was a large number. My grandparents were all born between 1905 and 1911 and died prior to 2000. All my great grandparents would have been born in the 19th century, probably in the 1870's and 1880's. The last of my great grandparents died in 1970. The 21st century has had its adjustments but my great grandparents went from being able to go to the nearest town and back in a day to being able to go across the country and back in a day. They went from 10 or 15 years removed from slavery being legal to Martin Luther King and the 1960's civil rights movement.
Pretty soon there will be on one who remembers a world before cars and airplanes. A world where most countries were their own little worlds unto themselves. That will be a great loss.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Anyway, I found the movie at the Blockbuster kiosk, setup an account with them like I had with Redbox, rented the movie and went to pick it up. It appears that Blockbuster has some deal with Speedway gas stations as that is where a lot of the kiosks are located. They also had some deal where you could get a discount on pop and frozen pizza if you have a Speedway card which I didn't. Blockbuster's web site seemed easier to use also and if a kiosk had a movie that was checked out, it was clearly indicated so you know maybe to check again later to see if the movie is available.
Ok, enough about kiosk movie renting. 2012, why did they only write half a movie? The first half is great mindless special affects candy. I wish I had seen it in the theater. Its funny, exciting and I highly recommend it. The science behind it is specious but the scientific babble is written well enough not to get in the way of the special effects. John Cusack does a good job even though I am well aware he only does these big money movies to fund the stuff he really wants to do. That's ok with me. The problem is about one half to three quarters through the movie it has to have some kind of "lesson" and totally dissolves into some oozing mess of a plot about people buying seats on the arks (plot spoiler) so that only the super wealthy are saved. Towards the end it takes on a Pirates of the Caribbean quality as one of the good guys takes charge and begins barking orders. The last 10 minutes or so revolve around an apparent design flaw in the ship where the engine can't start until the doors close, go figure.
The good guys are mostly minorities, the bad guys mostly white except for John Cusack of course. One of the bad guys is Russian, he has two fat kids who are brats which is a slight twist. Normally you would expect these roles to be American. In the end the evil Russian sort of redeems himself while the evil American white guy, Oliver Platt's character, does not. Oliver Platt is a good actor and kind of wasted playing a caricature role like this. They could have added more depth to his character. They did actually during the middle of the movie but that is all gone by the final scenes. Danny Glover spends the whole movie looking pathetic. Too bad they couldn't get Morgan Freeman for the president role again. Woody Harrelson is good as a lunatic conspiracy theorist radio talk show host. There are some additional subplots that are stuck on and add nothing to the movie other than length. The action is all over the top but it is pulled off in such a way that it doesn't make it too hard to suspend disbelief.
In the end, it was worth the $1.08 I spent plus the 8 mile round trip to the kiosk to get the movie. I just wish they had gone to the trouble of writing a complete script.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Yesterday was the 35th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. I told this to my wife and kids which resulted in blank stares. The Big Fitz was an iron ore boat that went down in Lake Superior in an early winter storm on November 10th, 1975. Lake freighters are called boats, not sure why, but they are huge. The Edmund Fitzgerald was 720 feet long, the maximum length that would still fit through the locks on the canals connecting the lakes.
Its easy to forget how much we are at nature's mercy in the modern age and at the time it was a shock that something as big as the Fitzgerald could be sunk by a storm. The storm of November 10, 1975 was a great lakes hurricane with sustained winds of close to 60 mph and gusts up to about 90 and up to 35 foot waves. A similar November storm in 1913 destroyed 19 ships, including 12 that were sunk, and killed 250 people.
This song by Gordon Lightfoot always haunted me when I heard it as a kid.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
I have read a lot on the internet about how it was Lebron's right to work where he wants to. About how Lebron is not a slave and Dan Gilbert should be grateful for the 7 years he was imprisoned in this crappy little town. Here are a list of Lebron's apparent rights:
1. The right to work where you want.
2. The right to tank playoff games while collecting a huge salary.
3. The right to make plans with players on other teams while telling fans your objective is to win.
4. The right to stomp on the people who bought the tickets, jerseys and bullshit for all these years.
Lebron James' salary for 2010 is around $15 million. Most of us work a lot harder for a lot less with no MVP awards or media recognition. Many of us put in 80 hour weeks, work ourselves into heart attacks and miss important things in life just to make our employers successful so they will keep paying our salaries. With big money comes big responsibility. You don't get paid that kind of money just to put in a good effort. I have come to realize where I work that I don't want my boss's job. The people who make the big bucks at my company have no life. They eat sleep and breath the business. I have long since realized that I am not one of those people and in most cases have a sense of awe for the people that have that ability. By the same token that is why they make the big money. Its expected of them to give up their lives. Lebron makes many orders of magnitude more than the biggest big whig I know and from what I see has had to sacrifice very little. He should have left it all on court against Boston and he didn't, he just didn't.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
No matter, I mostly just write for myself anyway.
The other night I was flipping around the channels and happened on "The Special Relationship" on HBO. To the annoyance of my wife I watched it and was absorbed in it. She lasted about 15 minutes before going upstairs to watch something else.
First of all I am curious how much of it is real. I read online that the conversations between Bill Clinton and Tony Blair were fictionalized. I don't know if that means they never happened or if they are fictionalized based on second hand accounts. If they are completely fiction they were extremely believable and fit with the history that has happened since.
To my surprise I felt my opinion of Bill Clinton changing. I never liked Bill Clinton when he was in office. Loathing would be a fair description of how I felt. I have to say that my feelings about him as a person have not changed much. As a president however, he has gone up a few notches in my mental ranking of presidents. I am beginning to think that overall his presidency was less destructive than Bush 43 who I voted for twice. I mean, what came out of the Clinton administration? Don't ask don't tell? Welfare reform? An endless string of sleazy stories? White water? Travelgate? I guess that you could make the argument, and I did in the past, that the Clinton presidency led to 911 by its lax stance on terrorism. To be fair though this was not unique to Clinton and there were policy failures going back to the 60's that probably had more to do with this. Looking back on it, the scandals and the sleaze did not really have the wide ranging long lasting impact that the failed policies in Iraq and Afghanistan will have in the years to come. Clinton's problems were small time relatively speaking, they began and ended with him.
My opinion of Tony Blair has taken an opposite trajectory. Not knowing much about him before the movie and maybe still not knowing much, I was surprised by his naivete. In the movie he stands by Bill and forms a personal relationship with him. He then expects the president to commit troops to Yugoslavia based on that. WTF? I'm no diplomatic expert but do any countries make foreing policy decisions based on being buddies with the people in charge of allied countries? That he expected Clinton to do this is even more surprising. Bill Clinton is a shark who would eat his young if it came down to it. To think that Clinton was going to stick his neck out without obvious benefit because he and Tony were "friends" is beyond naive, its incomprehensible. If things went down as the film has it, Clinton comes out looking like Nostradamus while Blair looks like a very polite very likable Mr. Magoo. Until that is you think about his plans to risk American lives for his humanitarian desires. I really would like to know how much of this movie is fact and how much is a hatchet job on Tony Blair.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
This bit of gloomy intelligence got me thinking about my sanity, happiness and what it would take to maintain it. I have spent the first 40 years of my life denying myself pleasures to save for the "future". Recently it has become apparent that the future I expected, (financial security, wealth from small investments made early and a relatively frugal lifestyle, comfortable old age and golden years) was not coming. Instead it sent its cousin (financial uncertainty, a possible return to minimum wage employment and golden years much like my early twenties living hand to mouth but without youthful health and energy). This transformation has taken place over the past 2 years. Before that I always had confidence that even though I was not the best and brightest, I was a hard worker with enough will power to avoid the common pitfalls of life. I have never borrowed much money, I have always managed to live within my means which provided a sense of well being and security that I enjoyed. This may have been the result of my childhood which was chaotic and full of uncertainty. There were times through no fault of their own that my parents could not pay for fuel to heat our house, and other hardships I never wanted to encounter again.
I'm taking a bit of a detour, what I really wanted to say is I've been thinking a little about alternative ways to be happy given that my first choice does not appear possible. This last year I started to indulge a little. I started some hobbies with my kids that I really enjoy. They are not inexpensive but I have found real joy in doing them. I think if I could find a way to keep doing them I could deal with giving up other expenses in my life. My wife and I were discussing the big what if yesterday and what our options would be. We both agreed that if necessary we could sell our house and live happily in an apartment like we did years ago. I always envisioned reaching a point in life where I and my family would be financially set. This always drove me, motivated me but now appears very unlikely to ever happen. The probability is I will spend the rest of my days scratching out a living worrying about money like I always have. But if I can have moments of happiness like the time spent recently with my sons doing things I enjoy I think I can be happy.
One of the things that recently happened was I took one of my sons skiing. The third time out we graduated from the rope pull to the chair lift slope. The first two times up he fell getting off the chairlift. The third time he nailed it and skied to the bottom without falling. Its hard to describe the sense of joy and pride and happiness I felt. It made me wonder if there really was a heaven, would the feeling be like this. I remember as a child trying to comprehend the concept of heaven and finding it a little intimidating. Like the song says:
When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise,
Than when we first begun.
I don't know of anything that I want to do for 10,000 years especially go to church. Even the moment I described above with my son only works for that brief instant. We are not wired for constant joy. Its the long periods of strife, effort and disappointment that highlight the joy and make it exceptional. 10,000 years of being perpetually joyful would not be a significantly better situation than 10,000 years of depression, in my opinion anyway. Even 10,000 years of life's ups and downs would be hard to take. After the first century or so you would probably run out of new ideas and new experiences. Would you then spend the next 100 centuries repeating everything over and over? In about 10 to 12 years I will be done raising my family (as far as legal obligations go anyway). I could start and raise hundreds of families in 10,000 years, enough times to actually be good at it perhaps. But my sons are unique, they are the only ones I will ever have. I can't imagine feeling the same way after having 1000 children. Life is special because it is finite, it ends. Because it has an end it focuses our attention to the few things that are worth focusing on or it should have that affect at any rate.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Case in point, these windmills in Minnesota. The real story is not that they don't function in cold weather but that they cost $400k a pop to make 160kw of power (when the wind blows more than 12 miles per hours and the temperature is not below 1 degree Fahrenheit). The $400k is just the startup, these things have to be maintained and to acheive the 25% renewable energy that the state is going to mandate, you will need thousands of these things. What is the cost on maintaining thousands of small generators. Granted, they will probably buy bigger turbines if they get serious about meeting the 25% requirement but still it will have to be many thousands. Looking at this site, the average coal fired plant probably generates about 500 MW of electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, regardless of temperature or wind speed. You need 71 of these big boys running at capacity all the time to replace 1 medium sized coal fired plant. Did I mention this windmill is only a prototype? Nothing this big is currently in production. Estimates seem to range for initial cost from $1000/kwh to $2000/kwh so for 7 MW that would be $1000*7*1000 or $7 million on the low side per unit. If government was not involved and companies were left to themselves to find the most profitable way to generate electricity, this would not be it. I am not saying we should burn coal until the skies are black with soot, where I live used to be a major steel producing town and the area where the steel mills were was called the valley of fire. No one wants to go back to the days when the valley was covered in smoke and soot rained down on peoples houses. But to suggest that Minnesota is going to meet its 25% renewable energy generation requirements with windmills is like ignoring the laws of gravity which is exactly what is happening on a widespread basis.
All across the country bad ideas are not dying and not being disproved. Instead they are being put on life support by government. A certain amount of bad ideas can be tolerated but there must be a tipping point where society's delusions reach critical mass and explode. Ideas that bypass the harsh Darwinian testing of reality can be dangerous as they suck up resources and lead people down a path that separates them from reality. In nature this doesn't happen, if a mouse is born an albino the success of this change is proven or disproven quickly. Someday the government is going to build the 71 windmills and scrap a conventiional power plant (coal, nuclear, hydro, whatever). Some winter it is going to get cold and either the wind won't blow or the windmills will freeze or there won't be enough mainenance people to keep enough of them running. Depending on how far down the path the government has led us away from reality, there may not be enough capacity from the remaining conventional power plants to take up the slack and people will freeze and or starve. This is not the way to find out our ideas were wrong.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I thought it strange at first that with one exception, the superheroes had no superpowers. Now I think the purpose of this was to focus the story on the human aspect of how real superheroes would act, what their personalities would be like.
The movie has a great feel to it. The music, the look, everything just fits. I was never a Bob Dylan fan but the opening sequence with "The Times They are a Changin" sets the tone. All through the movie the right songs at the right time keep setting the perfect tone. I just downloaded Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". Admittedly the scene with this song is a little on the pornographic side, something like you see late night on HBO. Maybe this was to appeal to the teenage boy inside all us guys, it was a comic book after all.
I don't know if the movie is great or if I am just overwhelmed by the style and nostalgia factor. The story line was original. The last time I watched it I found myself wondering if Ozymandias was right and arguing pro and con in my head. When is the last time a movie had any ideas worth debating? Every movie I have seen in the last few years has been a sequel, a remake or new variation on an old theme. Not necessarily bad things if done well but it was nice to see something original. I never read The Watchmen comics so it was new to me.
The characters are intriguing. I found myself captivated and horrified by most of them. The Comedian is a charismatic sociopath that you can't stop watching. I wish there was more of him in the movie. Dr. Manhattan is a god like being who has not yet acheived god like maturity if there is such a thing. Rohrshach who oddly enough is god like with his absolute uncompromising views on right, wrong and justice. Then there is Ozymandias, the protagonist and smartest man on earth except for Dr. Manhattan. A couple other superheroes, Night Hawk 2 and Silk Spectre 2 are along for the ride.
The key question of the movie seems to be whether or not humanity needs a god. To be honest, I wonder this myself and I don't know the answer. The greater question may be if humanity cannot exist without believing a lie, should it?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
The Democrats are so lost in the weeds they will be lucky to get anything done. They have so polarized the country that they are not winning anyone from the middle or the right. If McCain had been elected he might have accomplished more of the Democrats agenda than the Democrats did. All Obama has done so far is pass a stimulus bill, a monstrosity sure but not all of it has been implemented yet. If the Democrats are afraid of losing power maybe they will even roll it back before long. McCain probably would have gotten amnesty for illegals, maybe done more to destroy the first amendment, probably gotten some form of healthcare reform. The Democrats may get their act together and really screw things up but so far it is looking promising.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
1. Human progress is a like a car driven by a guy who thinks the glass is half full and maintained by a guy who thinks the glass is half empty. (I thought of this in the shower, I hope it is original but there is a possibility I read it on a paper placemat in a restaurant and am regurgitating it now.)
2. We age like computers, the new ones have faster hardware but our software is more developed.
US Govt to shoot banking industry in the head, Europe fails to follow suit
US Govt to shoot banking industry in the head, Europe donates bullets
US announces plan to make Europe the finance capital of the world
(Actually I am not sure they are not already the Capital or perhaps Asia)
Europe endorses plan to eliminate US banking industry
You get the idea.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
Where are the people on our side capable of this kind of manipulation? If manipulation is being practiced by anyone in the US government it is only internal manipulation of different factions of the US electorate against each other. Externally we appear terrified of acting in our own interests. As passionate as our terrorists enemies are, they seem ripe for manipulation.