Saturday, July 31, 2010

Annals of (in)tolerance

Gee, you've just got to feel so optimistic about our society's ability to adapt, evolve, and draw strength from all of the members of our community. Nothing warms the heart like hearing about the church in Florida scheduling a "Burn a Qu'ran Day". We'll ignore the irony embodied in the Dove World Outreach Center's name. And don't forget the breaking news that the Anti-Defamation League is opposing a Muslim Fellowship Center two blocks away and not even in the line of sight from Ground Zero in Manhattan. Isn't this sort of racial and religious bigotry exactly what the ADL was created to oppose?

Sometimes, you have to wonder how we've managed to avoid wiping ourselves all out. Didn't anyone else watch Star Trek?

Picture of the Day

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Obama: Year One in the eyes of Jonathan Alter

The political junkie in me found Frank Rich's review of Jonathan Alter's new book, The Promise: President Obama, Year One, in the New York Review of Books definitely a worthwhile read. While I don't think I'll be buying the book, Rich's assessment of it certainly makes me think it might be a worthwhile library selection.

Picture of the Day

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Who says it doesn't pay to go into politics?

I think that public employees like teachers are often terribly underpaid given their value to our communities and children. Apparently, some public servants in Bell, California, also felt that their efforts on behalf of the city of 40,000 were also underappreciated so they decided to do something about it. I've never been interested in going into politics but for $750,000 a year, I'd be happy to be the city manager. Hell, I'd do it just for a few months and then happily resign.

Picture of the Day

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hmmmm, I hadn't thought of that

My revised and revamped home office is finally all set up, the centerpiece of which is my new desk. It's a sleek black steel and glass arrangement and I love it compared to what I'd used for years...namely, a narrow door across a pair of filing cabinets. Sure, the door wasn't pretty but it was solid, perfectly functional, and easily moved when necessary. However, the resurrection of our basement gave me the opportunity to try something new. So now I have my cool new desk. It looks great, has room for all my stuff, and offers several distinct working spaces.

It also shows every speck of dust and cat hair that lands on it. Fingerprints, too.

This was not something that I'd taken into consideration when selecting the new workspace. That was the benefit of a door. Unless there was a major dust bunny on it, the incidental dust and other debris just didn't show up. I'm sure it was there but it was easily ignored.

No longer. I'm not a neat freak but shiny black and glass definitely help highlight the white cat fur. Well, the cat's not going anywhere and the new desk isn't going anywhere so it looks like I'll be using some extra elbow grease every few days to dust and de-smudge.

Picture of the Day

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sure, it looks cool but...

The effort to build the world's first supersonic car is moving ahead apparently. Still, until they can drive a rocket-powered Ford through a mountain, I don't think I'll be that impressed.

Whale vs. Boat

Many of you might have seen the photos of the right whale breaching on top of the sailboat but now video is available showing the same thing. Wow. The fact that the boat didn't sink was amazing. The manufacturer should market them as "whale proof"!

Picture of the Day

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Political line of the day

"He's a thinking person's conservative. I expect him to do well among voters with IQ's in triple digits."

-- a consultant for Sensor Lindsey Graham (R-SC) when asked about his boss' chances in the upcoming election after Graham broke ranks and became one of the few Republicans to support Elena Kagan's candidacy for the Supreme Court

Is anyone really surprised?

Today's NY Times reports today that workers on the Deepwater Horizon, the doomed oil rig that was at the heart of the Gulf oil spill, were seriously concerned about safety practices, unsafe behaviors, poor equipment reliability, and lack of inspections. Not surprisingly, they were also afraid of reprisals if they spoke up about these issues.

The icing on the cake? There were multiple known problems with the blowout preventer that was supposed to have stopped exactly what happened.

Instead we're left with 11 men dead, hundreds of millions of gallons of oil spreading throughout the Gulf, economic wreckage in the region, incalculable damage to marine and wildlife habitats, and years if not decades of cleanup.

Picture of the Day

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Make war not...hey, does anyone else feel like microwave popcorn?

Apparently, the U.S. Army's "pain ray" is being recalled from Afghanistan without ever being used in action. Feelings about an invisible microwave beam weapon aside (yeah, I admit, it seems kinda cool), does anyone else see the irony of the test group in this video being military personnel playing "non-violent" protesters in favor of world peace while hurling rocks and other debris? Apparently the anti-Gandhi wasn't available.

Picture of the Day

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bloodless but effective

In a bout of whimsy as we finished a major project at work and sent it off for consideration by our hoped-for customer, I recommended that the team members cross their fingers, say a prayer, and sacrifice a goat to help tilt the scales in our favor.

Since that time, "one more goat!" has become the unexpected mantra of members of my department as we do our best to bring to completion a wide-ranging slate of projects that have been lingering on, sucking up our time and energy like oversized mosquitos in business casual.

Shockingly, the virtual threat of goat sacrifice appears to be working. Projects are coming together, we're making progress, and while my desk at the office is still a wreck, the "must be done ASAP" piles might be shrinking a bit.

One might attribute this to effective leadership, good morale, a team that enjoys working together, and old fashioned elbow grease but I prefer to think it's the beneficial presence of our new ruminant department mascot. Yeah, I know virtual goat sacrifice isn't something taught at the American Management Association, but it seems to be working and I'll take all the help I can get.

"Sacrifice" the Goat, department mascot extraordinaire

Picture of the Day

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Restoration

I'm back at my desk. After several months post-floods, I am no longer perched on a drafting chair at a counter in the kitchen. My feet can touch the floor, the visual stimulus of the kitchen isn't reaching out to me at the corner of my eye. Instead, I am back in our restored basement at my brand-new desk -- not a door balanced on filing cabinets or a cheapass particleboard desk but an honest-to-goodness steel and glass piece of furniture, my first real serious new desk ever -- with my computer and a sense that I'm someplace where I can write again.

Of course, it's so freakin' hot and humid, my brains are melting but the idea is there to write. After all, I invested in the desk. I should probably do something constructive at it.