Thursday, August 31, 2006

My Weird Boy, Alton Brown

Favorite show?

He loves watching Alton Brown with us.

In fact he just plopped down in our bedroom, nonchalantly ignoring that we sent him to bed half an hour ago, to watch the latest episode of Good Eats.

Which reminds me. I was watching his show Feasting on Asphalt the other night. Saw the funniest thing on TV since seeing snippets of Conan O'brien doing the Emmys. They were in California tasting 'cop food' and they talked about how pepper bullets fired from paint pellet riot guns are nothing more than pure Capsicum. Alton crushes one on the asphalt and hilarity ensues when he and his buddies take a taste/whiff of the busted ammunition. Their reactions were a riot, and the next one couldn't seem to resist giving the awful stuff a try.

Kind of like finding that rancid milk/formula bottle in the back of your car and going, "Whoa honey! Take a whiff of this!"

One of My All Time Favorite Quotes

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Good News - I can fit (barely) into a suit that I last wore 10 years ago.

Bad News - The moths liked the taste of it.

The Ugly - I'm still overweight according to the ole BMI P.O.S. Heck, body builders are overweight according to that.

Used to date a girl who was obsessed with her 'weight'. Literally. She worked out, but didn't want to add muscle mass as that would make her too heavy.

In other news. . .

Ernesto spit on Atlanta last night. Numerous folks without power on the other side of town.

Been a lot of air traffic around Dobbins Air Force Reserve Base the last 24hours. Just got buzzed by a couple of light jet aircraft. All last night, the C-130s were buzzing around from the West to the air base.

Wonder what logistics are enroute to which destination.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Mega Clnics

Wife went back to the eye-doctor yesterday, complaining of headaches around the eyes. She and the visit reminded me of something that I forgot to post regarding needed changes in the medical profession.

Economies of scale has pressured doctors to join large practices. The one we went to yesterday was one such facility. There is a whole floor of the hospital medical office building dedicated to a single eye care entity. There must be 20 doctors in this group and it's a maze of waiting rooms, paper pushers and examination rooms.

I don't mind it much because the doctor is wonderful. But I wonder if all of the regulatory paperwork and HMO procedural hoops are making the doctors to come together like this so that they all share a single staff that handles billinng, insurance, etc.

Contrast this with the experience earlier this year visiting the neuro-opthamologist.

She was a doctor, doing business as the sole proprietor. The only doctor in the office. She had a small and capable staff and just 3 exam rooms I believe. Definitely got the impression from those visits that we were not just a number. In fact, it felt like visiting my small town general practitioner in days of old. We got our 8:15 AM appointments, got there on time and "Wham-bam-thank-you-maam" were on our way again in less than a half hour.

Didn't even pay full fare to park in the hospital parking deck either!

Columbus is Tops!

Congrats to Columbus, GA who won the World Championship match Little League match last night vs. Japan!

Columbus is the home of Fort Benning. Wonder if there are any military kids on the team.

Heard an interview with their head coach on one of our local sports talk radio stations last week. Sounds like a terrific guy. Said that Columbus had been showing the games in local theaters. How cool is that?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Service Non-existent in Medical Industry

The idea of serving the customer is something lost on the medical industry.

The doctors usually do a good job treating you like a human being. At worst, they treat you as one of a long line of suffering beings that they've seen that day.

But as for the rest? The harpy administrators, the siren schedulers, the Labyrinthian phone systems, the waiting room of time consumption, not to mention the Byzantine insurance procedures, combine to form a patient's Twelve Herculean Labors.

We've had some awesome doctors over the years. Unfortunately, we've avoided or even left some of them due to horrible office experiences.

God forbid if you are late or have to cancel the day of your appointment. You'll possibly be charged the customary fee for a visit. But if the doctor is busy, and you show up early or on time, he may be late with no advance warning given to you by his office ahead of time or upon your arrival. You've taken time off from your job to be present for the appointment. It's a double whammy.

The doctor tells you that he needs to see you next week. The scheduler tells you there's nothing available. So you plead and argue with the scheduler while the doctor is busy attending the next patient.

One nurse continued to take my wife's height every visit. This was even though she had been coming to this particular office 2 to 3 times a week as requested. The nurse refused to crack open the file in her hand and must have suspected my wife was suffering from a rare vertical growth disorder. Nor were all the routine questions (with typically unchanging answers over the course of a couple of days) such as my wife having any allergies, current medications or the like dispensed with.

Many doctors, in order to spend more time on their core business of seeing patients, have outsourced their office operations. Unfortunately there seems to be little feedback allowed or encouraged that could improve this part of the system.

You could always switch doctors. Right?

Oh, wait. Not in the current HMO scheme of things forced on us by the Congress a couple of decades ago. Well, I guess I could always go off the HMO reservation. But at what increased cost to go it solo? Well, even if I was non-HMO, I'd still have to deal with the same old doctor office.

All-in-all, we have a good system of doctors and nurses in the US. The support system around them however leaves a lot to be desired.

The doctors are partially at fault here too. Their out-of-sight out-of-mind philosophy regarding the business end of their operations doesn't lend much in the way of service to their customers.

I hope in the future, in addition to regular scheduled check-ups and such, that doctors can work more with their clientele to make the experience much more friendly and user focused.

(And big government is not the answer to this sort of problem.)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sex vs. The Bomb

How bad have sexual taboos become in America that a grown man would lie in an airport security line that his sex aid was a bomb? All because he was embarassed or afraid to embarrass his mother.

I know nothing of the pros or cons related to a penis pump, but to claim it's a bomb? He'd rather go to jail for publicly stating he had a bomb in his luggage at the airport than admitting what it really was.

But then again, I don't know the man's mother either. Perhaps jail was a better option.

But still, our national attitudes toward sex is very discouraging.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fox Reporters Still Missing

So is coverage of this 'event'.

Asked the Mrs if she'd heard about it. She said she hadn't heard a thing. Not like she could find much news about it.

God is not a Republican

or a Democrat.

I recently spotted the above statement on a bumper sticker here in Atlanta.

The Detroit News had an article on July 30 titled - Conservative evangelical pastor steers clear of politics, and pays

A Minnesota pastor got fed up with being asked to "give his blessing -- and the church's -- to conservative political candidates and causes."

According to the article, Rev. Gregory A. Boyd believes the church should avoid politics, moralizing on sexual issues, refrain from characterizing the United States as a "Christian nation" and that US military operations should not be glorified.

Apparently this poor mega-church and its leader paid for his actions by losing 20% of its members who exercised their free will and sought a Christian community elsewhere.

Basically I agree with him. Here in Atlanta, our black churches and their leaders are very involved politically. That's not to say that the white churches don't do it too, but they are more evenly split in my opinion and therefore try to abstain from coming down solidly in favor of one political party over another.

HowEVER . . .

I'm sure he could give his blessing to conservative political candidates and causes without explicitly endorsing them. Is it not the call of all (Christian) church leaders, nay all Christians, to ask God to work through these people to do His will? You can bless the soldier with out telling him God has sent him on a crusade against Islamic fascism. I'm just a layman but I'm sure you can bless a Republican candidate in a way to ask God to guide him in his representation of his constituents without claiming that he's God's candidate. If he can't do this, he truly is a flawed vessel, like all of us, through which God has chosen to distribute his Word.

The article goes on and makes the generalization that a "common concern is that the Christian message is being compromised by the tendency to tie evangelical Christianity to the Republican Party and American nationalism, especially through the war in Iraq."

Whose fault is this? Is it not the Democratic left who wants nothing what-so-ever to do with Christians? Who is it that constantly bad mouths Christians as being weak, and the breeding ground right-wing extremism? The left has largely abandoned and vilified Christians. Small wonder then that the Republican party, who rarely says a bad word about Christianity, and rarely turns down their blessing, is seen as having stronger ties to the religion.

The only Christians the left embraces are those that are willing to vote Democratic.

I personally know that the church, especially the WASPs, are split roughly down the middle politically. I've got church elders and pastors in my family. We're EXTREMELY Christian. We're also extremely split and always have been. What's so new about that?

The new part is that the Democratic party, except for attempts to reach out to black voters, has neglected or even abandoned Christianity.

Rain Rain Go Away

Don't have a problem with rain normally.

But I think I've got a backed up gutter. Now I've got some roof damage.

Don't normally worry about gutters because we've only got one tree. And it's on the other side of the house. Wonder If a bird is roosting up there and causing it to back up with a little extra debris.


Monday, August 21, 2006


The weather held this afternoon, but I was up early with a foreign customer today. Napped while homework was done. Should have gone outside later and mowed the jungle. Instead, played a little catch with my daughter. Maybe I can work more with her on grounders if I can get the grass done properly.

SS Grounder to First Base

It's now thundering outside.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Doo Doo Dolls

Sitting in the parking lot of an increasingly dissappointing Einstein's Bagel shop (there's a Publix grocery store across the street and they seem incapable of providing two popular sugar substitues for almost a week) and overhear the DJ mention a song by the Goo-Goo Dolls.

Princess Loquacious speaks up and asks, "Doo Doo Dolls?"

I correct her and explain that the rock-n-roll band, like many choose to do, picked a silly name to be different and stand out against a overwhelming list of musical offerings.

"Are they real?" I'm asked. . .

"Whaddaya mean are they real? Are what real?"

The wise and observant princess recognizes the need to clarify for her ignorant subject what she means, "Doo Doo Dolls? You know, the ones that make you do bad things?"

Hmmm... A light bulb sputters on in my foggy brain.


Hahaha. "Yes dear, they are real. But I've never seen one work."

Anyone know where I can find one that will make my kids clean their rooms? Eat their veggies?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Presbyterian Global Fellowship - Atlanta, Aug 2006

I've been loosely involved with efforts of my church to start a new movement within the Presbyterian denomination.

A number of us are fed up with actions and statments by our 'leadership' in the head offices located in Kentucky.

So, we've been trying to organize and define ourselves. This week Peachtree Presbyterian Church is hosting the inaugural conference for the Presbyterian Global Fellowship. The purpose of this conference being mainly to meet with others who are fed up with our leadership and determine what exactly we want to accomplish with this sub movement.

There are plenty of folks who are ready to leave PC USA. Some just want to vent and be reassured that they are not alone in their contempt for those in power. Others want better accounting for the congregation's money that is sent to the umbrella oganization for mission work. A lot of folks seem ready to follow anyone ready to lead them as a counterpoint to Presbyterian headquarters.

Little has been defined ahead of this week's conference. I think mainly this gathering was meant to bring those with similar feelings together to define what they wish this new movement to be. A big brain storming session to put the movement in context. The organizers have stated the goal of this group is to not leave the denomination but to offer something that the attendees feel have been lacking. Namely a collective voice that has not been heard from within the current framework.

Big and small churches alike have sent representatives to the host city. All are concerned about the past and trying shape the future of the denomination. At the very least they want to feel like they have more say and control over donations and statements in their name.

This morning, I woke to a session (broadcast over the internet) regarding more pressing matters than mainstream politics colored through the eyes of a Presbyterian bureaucrat in Kentucky. The lady, Sharon Cohn serves as the Vice President of Interventions for International Justice Mission, told the attendees about the ongoing problem of real slavery, child prostitutioin and indentured servitude in the world. I thought it was rather timely given the recent developments regarding John Mark Karr and his life in Taiwain post JonBenet Ramsey. I've heard Sharon Cohn speak before and the subject matter is quite depressing. But it helps cement the fact that there are much bigger fish to fry in the name of the Lord than our arguing over ordaining homosexuals and boycotts in the name of underpaid tomato farmers. Those debates are important in their own right, but there is true evil to be fought in the world. I think our efforts are better spent there rather than on the political debate du jour.

But I'm just an ignorant, Southern layman. :P

Thursday, August 17, 2006

5 Year Olds With Cell Phones?

Not in my family.

But I'm not surprised in this, the age of entitlement. Nor am I suprised that this is the case in Europe where cell phones are much more entertwined in daily lives there. America is quickly heading there.

Wonder how much they cost to replace when the child drops it in the pot, leave it on the playground, dog chews it up. . . I don't trust my kids with those kind of things yet. Maybe when they stop leaving their toys in the driveway I'll change my mind.

Pictures That Lie

Monday, August 14, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time, Of the Year

Yup, school starts today. Hello regular schedules!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Racism Alive and Well - Where it Thrives

I don't care that I'm the only white male in my subdivision. I don't give a hoot that my local representatives are black and the my daughter's best friends are asian and black. I don't discriminate where I spend my money based on who owns or operates a business. I don't vote against anyone based on the color of their skin.

Some people will. Bigotry will always exist. And technically we are not talking about racism here. It's regarding black vs white politics as openly discussed by competing black candidates.

The following from online magazine, Black America (hattip to Peach Pundit) is disgusting :
“Even during the days of slavery, the slave master always had his puppet,” Brooks said, accusing Johnson of willingly receiving support from GOP loyalists intent on unseating McKinney.

“George Bush and his Republican machine are working diligently to defeat Cynthia just as they did four years ago,” Brooks said, referring to McKinney’s loss to Denise Majette. “That’s the just the trials and tribulations of being a true black leader. Anytime you speak up for the black community, you’re going to have your enemies. You can expect opposition to come.”

This fella, Mr. Brooks, a longtime member of the Georgia House of Representatives who spent much of the election finding votes for McKinney, is really just upset that he and his friend aren't the ones receiving the white man's money. Case in point, Brooks says "He’ll feel no pride in Johnson’s moving on to the Democratic nomination at McKinney’s expense." The word expense is doubly appropriate here.

I'm guilty of politically based bigotry. I didn't get to vote in McKinney's election. But I'd question where she gets her money from. After 9/11, McKinney's campaign contributions from outside of Georgia have grown. In contrast election victor Hank Johnson's single page of individual backers reads like a who's who of his district.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Out of the Mouths of Babes

A friend of ours had been asking a hispanic mother about what her son thought a cow said.

The mother said, "No. He's four. He's past all of that."

After some pressing by our friend, the mother relented and asked her son in spanish what a cow 'says'.

The son replied in spanish, "Como mas pollo".


"Eat More Chikin"

Local Brothers Meet Up in Iraq

Two Dunwoody (a suburb of Atlanta) brothers have a chance reunion in northern Iraq in May.

The Kazmarek family goes to my church and my wife saw this article posted in a Sunday School class room.

Helicopter pilot and 1st Lt. Robert Kazmerek was reunited with his brother Capt. Cliff Kazmarek when he was assigned to fly Cliff and another soldier to Samarra in northern Iraq. Rain kept him from being able to leave the town.

They got to spend two days together waiting for the weather to improve before the mission could continue.

I'm sure many noogies and much ribbing was exchanged. :)

Redwall Abbey

My family just completed the Redwall book on tape and loved it. The only complaint being the sound balance/production issues that had some characters at very loud levels but others pretty low.

Wonderful story about Matthias mouse and his adventures to save Redwall Abbey from Cluny the Scourge.

Cobb Police Academy Hijinks

A local police academy in Cobb County (NW Atlanta suburbs) dismissed a class of 20 recruits who were accused of cheating on an exam.

Did they bring crib notes? Write on the bottom of their shoes? Steal the answer sheet from the instructor prior to the test?

No. Apparently they collaborated during class.

From the article:
Barney said he shared answers — and so did everyone else. But he does not believe it was cheating.

Louis Barney, formerly of NYC's Dept. of Corrections, said, "Where were we supposed to draw the line? Nothing was made known to us that this type of behavior was unacceptable... It was only after a supervisor came into the room and saw them asking questions. He questioned them and from there it snowballed."

They'd had open book tests previously. But unless your instructor tells you that this is a group test, you don't collaborate. Been like that since elementary school, right?

Shame on the class instructors for not being in the class the whole time to provide directions, but if there is a question about whether or not you can collaborate, the time to clarify that is right before the test is given.

I don't think I want someone that doesn't know where to draw the line to be given the power to 'lawfully' take my life and search my property.

On the other hand, I do want people who will ask questions and ask for help when they don't know the proper procedures or the right thing to do.

But he'd better be asking those questions prior to firing his weapon donchya think?


Apparently this sort of thing is an epidemic.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Immunizing American Free Press from US Control

In our rush and to protect our venerable free press from government interference, we've allowed our free press to become willing tools of foreign concerns.

Nowadays we seem to trust foreign governments and take 'news' from foreign contractors and organizations at face value over our own government and domestic concerns.

Our founding fathers, while striving to ensure the press' freedom, were loyal to our nation. I can't imagine them posting articles from the London Times or editorals from Barbary Pirates and take them at face value.

Instead, we get Rathergate, Reutersgate and the like. While turning over every rock looking for domestic conspiracies, we willingly ignore those who conspire to do us ill will or harm.


I'm in IT.

For years now, my company has been laying off workers and building up its outsourcing ranks.

Why? Because its the 'in' thing. And because you can immediately reap the short term benefits of a smaller domestic staff while waiting for long term cost savings that may or may not materialize.

I'm not 'pro' outsourcing or 'anti' outsourcing. I want my company to do what it needs to do in order to be profitable and continue my employment.

It's easy to find people domestically and abroad who are willing to answer a phone using passable English and strictly follow a script that will supposedly cure 99.9% of what ails the typical consumer.

Finding qualified, dependable employees for skilled labor is much more difficult when you outsource.

My company has used several Indian outsourcing companies over the years. What we've discovered is that finding people qualified to help from day one is almost impossible for our needs. Instead, we find we have to train them as we are not a mainstream programming shop.

Then, after 6 months or so, they have the skills to operate as a greenhorn programmer. Problem is, now they are more valuable to all sorts of employers. Our outsourcing contract is with the company and not the employee. So, the employee gets a nifty offer and jumps ship leaving both companies high and dry.

In other situations, we find that the outsourcer has better incentives or a critical project with another company and our outsourced people are pulled from our tasks.

There's also the time difference to deal with. When outsourced to an Asian company, the time difference can be a major hindrance in time critical projects. They are emailing you while you sleep, you return their messages while they sleep, making for very inefficient consultations and decision making.

My company is now so lean that if someone goes down, say in a car accident or with a serious illness, projects get delayed and tasks start seriously backing up.

Outsourcing can definitely help a company, but stakeholders should not treat it as a cure for inefficient processes, an alternate for skilled labor or a guaranteed long term return.


Georgia Tech today broke ground on the new Marcus Nanotechnology Buildng.

As is usually the case for Georgia Tech operating within the University System of Georgia, Georgia Tech solicited and collected private funds to build this facility to ensure Georgia a "front row seat" and future residents will benefit directly from a new field of study. The biggest donor was Home Depot co-founder, Bernie Marcus, who made a $15 million commitment to the building earlier this year. He made the committment largely due to the possibilities that nanotechnology has in medical research.

Ain't redneck tech cool?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

May the Road Rise to Meet You

The old Irish proverb goes:

May the road rise to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, the rains fall soft upon your fields and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Here in the southern US, we'd prefer the sun and wind to be at our backs. We usually don't need the hot sun to warm our faces.

And rains falling soft on your fields? We all want that. Heavy rains and hail damage your crops or landscaping. Not to mention break your car windows and sweep everything away in flash floods.

But what about having the 'road rise to meet you'? Sounds a lot like walking uphill. That's hard work as expereinced during my life here in the Piedmont Plateau.

The road often rises to meet me in unpleasant ways. Especially when I'm falling face first.

I guess I need this part explained to me a little better.

Better yet, I offer an updated blessing:

May the traffic lights green before you.
May the big trucks always be at your back.
May your electronic assistants be fully charged, your inbox devoid of spam, the telemarketers loose your phone numbers and,
until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Our Own Little Mideast Conflict

Kids outside playing, sort of.

Daughter comes in first and says to Momma, "We ran into each other and he hurt his eye."

Momma says, "Well, go get him an icepack. Then go tell your dad that you beat up your brother."

Darling daughter says, "OK, but I know what he's going to say."

Son, mortally wounded, crawls in the doorway and reluctantly makes his way to the couch for a little triage. Protective mother asks if he is okay. Son replies, "Yeah, I just didn't know she was going to smack me."

I Wonder How John Knox is Doing These Days

Talleyrand points out that, "A staff that has lost touch with congregations is a small thing, a minor annoyance, compared to one that has wholly lost touch with reality, so that we are now selling this book through our denominational publishing house."

It turns out that the Westminster John Knox Press—a division of the denominational publisher for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)-is publishing a 9/11 consipracy book.

"We have a long tradition of being a publisher of somewhat progressive stances on theological and social issues, so it is not out of character for us to do this," said Jack Keller, vice president of publishing at WJK. "Whether or not people were fully persuaded by the arguments, he was certainly raising some interesting issues."

The good news?

James Berkley, the director of Presbyterian Action for Faith and Freedom, said that Westminster's decision to publish Griffin's book "is both laughable and pathetic" and that the publishing company is not ideologically in line with most Presbyterians.

This kind of garbage, coupled with the singling out of Israel for divestment, should make all Prebyterians very wary of our outspoken 'leadership' in high positions within our denomination. Not to mention that this particular publisher describes itself as prone to progressive (*AKA leftist*) stances.

We should give this action the same treatment as if they had published a screed for the KKK or the Nazis.

I'm sure these folks wouldn't approve of these guys supporting our efforts in the Middle East either. I guess they would if the message were to their liking though.

Lebanon News Sources from an American Who Has Been There