Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Male Locker Room Talk

Many men, mostly old white guys, have come out in some level of defense of Donald Trump's bragging about sexually assaulting women. I am not and will not be one of them.

I have read politicians say that grabbing a woman's pussy is not assault. I have read and seen interviews that this is how guys talk when there are no women (or microphones) around. I even had someone say that they had heard much worse at their church on Sundays.

Quick responses. How about someone grabs these cretins by the nuts and see how they like it. My friends and I haven't and don't talk like this, in the locker room or the bus. Maybe you really need to change churches. 

No holier than thou claims here. Yes, when guys are together, me included, we talk about women. We even make sexual comments. We recognize and appreciate attractive women. We notice nice tits and asses. We indicate that we would like to be with that sexy attractive woman.

What we don't talk about is assaulting those women or forcing our affections on them. We can go into all kinds of situations and what is acceptable behavior. Is it an established relationship, is it a consensual beginning of a new relationship? More importantly is it a consensual encounter at that moment? In no situation other than in a mutually consensual situation can either party grab the genitals of the other. 

The Donald seems to be stuck in the 60's or 70's when powerful men ruled with almost no boundaries or consequences. Unfortunately for him, fortunately for women, it is a new century. 

How as an alleged presidential candidate, trying to woo female voters, can you hire Roger Ailes as an advisor?  Is the thought that he got away with it, so I can too? 

Since many in the Republican party have given up on tRump, I fear that his scorch and burn tactics will reach a new low. It appears that he has abandoned the teleprompter and is now fully ad lib.  

I am prepared for an ugly month of campaigning leading up to the election. I made up my mind on the election months ago. Trump and his behavior only reinforce that decision.

He will rationalize all his problems as being caused by someone or something else. He will never accept that he screwed up or was wrong. It must be a heavy burden to be infallible. 

How sad that in a country of 320 million people it comes down to this choice.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

To π’žπ“Šπ“‡π“ˆπ’Ύπ“‹π‘’ or not to Cursive

There are a lot of posts on Facebook and other social media sites about whether schools should continue to teach students how to handwrite cursive. 

When I was in grade school, learning cursive consumed a big portion of our school day during the first few years. We had to learn the Palmer Method. In fact, I don't remember hearing the word "cursive" used. It was handwriting or just writing. Handwriting tests, handwriting practice, handwriting homework, handwriting workbook, handwriting paper, handwriting grade on the report card, etc. It was how our teachers, parents and grandparents wrote. Everything not from a typewriter or printing press was in cursive. We even had mimeographed (kids, ask your parents or maybe grandparents what mimeograph means. Ask about the ink color and smell) work sheets and test that were handwritten by the teachers and then copies run off. 
Mimeograph Machine

All of the important documents from the founding of our country like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were handwritten in cursive. The immigration records from places like Ellis Island are in cursive as are most of the old US census records. Every letter or note I ever got from my Mom, grandmother or high school sweetheart was written in cursive. 

So as you can see, I grew up with cursive and yet like that algebra stuff I learned in high school, I rarely use it. In fact, being a computer geek, I probably used algebra and math way more than cursive. I was never good in "handwriting". I could write or draw all the letters, but it was not smooth, flowing or graceful like it should be. I always put the pencil or pen in a death grip. That does not induce a smooth flow. My middle finger would develop a bump, my thumb a deep groove and after a few minutes of writing my hand was sore and fatigued. I also tended to write very small so it was even harder to read. Small and sloppy is not a good combination.

Accounting Ledger Sheet
I started migrating to printing by the time I went to college it was easier for me and slightly more legible. Being a business/accounting major reinforced that. We were still doing spreadsheets by hand, no Excel, no PCs. Column and row headings and labels were printed. Any notations were also printed.
IBM Assembler Coding Sheet

Then the final nail in the coffin for me and cursive. I became a computer geek after college. The computer had no use for cursive, everything was printed. There were good reasons for that. Back in the late 60's and 70's most computer stuff was done in 80 column card images or 132 column print images. There were forms with little designated spaces for the programmer, operator or technician to write out these instructions before sending them to the keypunch department to be transferred to punch cards that the computers could read. You can't write cursive across those little boxes when each character has to be readable and in a specific column. A letter or number in column 9 may mean something completely different than a letter or number in column 8 or column 10. Computers are very particular and not forgiving. They do exactly what you tell them to do, not what you want or meant.

So, although I don't write code anymore and haven't used coding sheets for many years, I have had no reason to resurrect my limited cursive skills. The only remnant of those old days is when I sign my name or write a check. I suppose you can print checks, but old habits die hard. I normally write only about one check a month, maybe 15 a year. I often struggle half way through the amount or a long payee name. Every other expense is a credit/debit card, PayPal, or electronic payment. Even my deposits are electronic or I take a picture of the check with my phone. Oh yes, I still endorse the checks with my signature in cursive but I print "for deposit only"

I think there should be enough exposure and teaching so that today's generation can at least read cursive. If they do any historical searches of old documents, it will be very helpful if they can decipher the information. I have researched some census documents that were somewhat of a bitch to read, but I could. All census takers and Ellis Island workers were not created equal when it came to handwriting. More importantly is if they find old family letters or other documents after the prior generations, and cursive writers, are gone. 
Old Census Form

One thing we lose as cursive fades in use is the beauty of some people's hand. On the other hand, we should not miss those who turned handwriting into a contest with chickens scratching for grain. No, of course, I am not referring to doctors.

Remember too that there are already cursive translation apps. Point your phone at a note, passage or page and the app will render the cursive into crisply printed letters on the screen. A bonus feature of these apps is that it doesn't matter what language the original was written in. Simultaneous cursive and language translation is no problem. These apps will only continue to improve. π’―𝒽𝑒𝓇𝑒 𝒢𝓇𝑒 π’Άπ“π“ˆπ‘œ π’Έπ“Šπ“‡π“ˆπ’Ύπ“‹π‘’ 𝓉𝑒𝓍𝓉 π‘”π‘’π“ƒπ‘’π“‡π’Άπ“‰π‘œπ“‡π“ˆ, which convert printed characters into π’Έπ“Šπ“‡π“ˆπ’Ύπ“‹π‘’. For word processing apps there are multiple cursive fonts available.

Here are my thoughts. I think students in the early years while they are learning to read and write should be exposed to cursive, at least the reading of cursive. I think they should be taught the rudimentary concepts of cursive. The same way that I think math principles and concepts should be taught with pencil, paper and blackboards (whiteboard, overheads, screens) even though there is almost always a sophisticated calculator or digital assistant available. I do not think that there should be hours of drawing ovals and other cursive writing practice. The kids are going to type everything on a phone, tablet or computer. The few times they need cursive, one of those devices will translate what they want to read or translate their handwriting into digital characters. That is as long as they recognize it as human English cursive and don't think it is Klingon.

Old school folks think that today's kids should have pretty much the same school curriculum that they did. After all, if it was good enough for them, it's good enough for the next couple of generations. Times change. We no longer need to teach typing, but keyboard skills may still be useful (he says as he types this on a laptop keyboard). Looking back, I'm glad that I can read cursive but I think most of the time practicing how to write it in a perfect Palmer, nun approved form was a waste. I would also like to have back every minute I spent in four years of high school Latin. Although I can read and translate the following latin phrase written in cursive. 

What do you think?


Monday, October 3, 2016

Very Random Thoughts - September 2016

  • Remember when there was only one kind or flavor of Coca-Cola, one Pepsi, one Budweiser, one Oreos, one Special K, etc.?
  • It seems that the most macho, well armed, tough guys are also the most paranoid and afraid. 
  • I find it almost impossible to watch The Weather Chanel. A slight drizzle is not a catastrophe. The hype is overwhelming. 
  • Do you think when the TSA talks about new rules &/or procedures, someone says "this won't do a damn thing to improve security but it will really piss off the passengers"? Then the head guy says "I like it, let's do it". 
  • Pumpkin flavored crap and Halloween candy now appear at the end of August. 
  • I am never confident that I have completely emptied all the pockets in my cargo shorts before I wash them.
  • Those "Last Chance to Save" emails are usually followed the next day by an email for a new sale.
  • Marketing BS. Putting "Gluten Free" on a product that has never had gluten. Like candy or ice cream or chicken breasts. Remember only 1 or 2% of the population is gluten intolerant.
  • Remember too that often times "Gluten Free" also actually means "Flavor Free". But they don't advertise that.
  • Do you think the lobsters at Red Lobster get pissed when they have a shrimp or crab special?
  • Do you ever graze the kitchen when the fridge and cupboard are jam packed but you can't find anything to eat? Is that the equivalent of a woman looking into a fully stocked closet only to determine she has nothing to wear?
  • Don't take the TV remote to the kitchen. You will leave it there and only have to get up again to fetch it.
  • Sometimes when I write something, I mention that the youngsters should ask their parents what I'm talking about. I am beginning to realize that I need to tell the kids and their parents to ask the grandparents about the references. 
  • In the old Westerns, whenever somebody got knocked out by a punch or gun barrel to the head, they could always be revived instantly by some water splashed on the face. No concussion protocol at all.
  • The Post Office finally came out with a good deal when they introduced the forever stamps. So what do they do this year? They reduce first class stamp prices. Now all your old forever stamps are overpriced. 
  • Staunch gun advocates seem to be paranoid too. Which comes first, the paranoia or the guns?
  • I used to think "stars" were famous sports greats or movie, stage and TV actors. Now we have reality stars, YouTube stars, Facebook stars, Vine stars, Instagram stars, etc. Everybody is a damn star. From now on refer to me as a retired star or an old star or a short star or a bald star or a fill in the blank star.
  • I don't think we will get better candidates and politicians until we get a more conscientious and informed electorate. I hope we reached the bottom this election cycle.
  • Strange. I haven't had a cigarette in 10 years and haven't really had a craving for one in probably 9 years 11 months. So today I woke up from dozing off and thought I needed a cigarette. 
  • Got an email from a fitness tracking site with the heading "Avoid Bonking On The Bike With These Easy Tips". I misread "bonking" for "banking" and wondered why banking on a bike was something I should avoid. I actually do it all the time. I have also bonked on a bike ride and it's no fun.
  • I just missed a "last chance" sale opportunity. Now I'll have to wait until tomorrow or maybe the day after for an even better "last chance" deal. 
  • I have always been a news junkie, but I hate the way it is now covered and reported. 
  • Does every food product have to have a "pumpkin & spice" flavor for autumn? 
  • Amazing how football analysts can turn on a dime from calling a team terrible to calling them the best ever. It only takes a couple of plays and may flip flop a few times during a single 60 minutes game.
  • Is there a school that all politicians and their surrogates go to learn how to avoid answering questions?
  • Do commercial food chemists get paid by the number of ingredients that they can cram into a product? Do they get a bonus if those ingredients are obscure and unpronounceable? 
  • Wouldn't it be great if one of those inane  "Select Committee" congressional panels were convened to find a solution rather than pin blame on a political rival? How about if grandstanding and hyperbole were banned during the public hearings. Never happen.
  • I remember when you weren't supposed to mix stripes, checks and plaids in your wardrobe. Too busy. Now it seems like it is mandatory to get as many different patterns as possible into the same outfit. Still looks crappy to me.
  • There is a Chevy commercial on TV where the guy brags that their vehicles have won all the awards shown on a big wall. There must be at least 20 awards. My take is that there are way too many meaningless auto awards. 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Music 2016 - Better or Worse?

Is Music in 2016 better or worse than 1956, 1966, 1976, 1986, 1996 or 2006? I'm a child of the 60's so I would vote for the 60's and 70's music with maybe a little late 50's foundation. Of course, the answer is dependent on how old you are and what music you grew up with. I have friends who are my age but grew up listening to Country music. My parents listened to the Pop and Jazz standards of the 30's, 40's and 50's so I was exposed to Ella, Frank, Bing, Perry, Duke, Count, Glenn, the Dorsey's, and many others. I still like that music on occasion. I listened to the early Rock 'n' Roll guys like Bill Haley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and of course Elvis. I liked it, but never fully embraced it. I liked the Doo Wop stuff more. My real love of music came in the early 60's with a combination of the Beach Boys and Surf music along with some Folk music and Soul music which was really made popular with the advent of Motown. There was the occasional Country song or artist that got my attention too. After the Surf craze, we had the British Invasion led by the Beatles. To be honest, there were several British groups I like more than the Beatles. The Rolling Stones, Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Zombies are a few of them. 

Now we get to the differences in music and it's consumption today vs then. We listened to AM radio for most of our music. We might have a couple of 33⅓ LPs and some 45 singles, but none of my friends had an extensive music library. In the 60's, the AM radio dial (there was little or no FM) was divided into pop standard/big band, classical, country and top 40 along with maybe a kind of news/NPR/public affairs station. I guess there may have been religious/gospel stations, but I don't remember them. The top 40 stations played whatever was on the charts so a Frank Sinatra song might be followed by The Miracles followed by the Beatles followed by Johnny Cash, followed by... It eventually was dominated by Rock, but it took several years. The good part was that we were exposed to all kinds of music and artists. The bad news was that we had to listen to stuff we didn't like and maybe wait a couple of hours for that song or two we really wanted to hear. 

I was lucky in that there were always at least two and sometimes more very good Top 40 stations in my town. We were experts at switching between the stations either with the pushbuttons on the car radio or the dial on our transistor radios. We could avoid the commercials and the songs we didn't like. 

Back then, you listened to what was on the air with limited choices. Today, there are a million choices. If you want to listen to only 1998 Rap, you can find it, although why would you. Radio stations are very specific now including pay/satellite radio. You don't just have Country, you have modern Country, classic Country, 70's Country and maybe Texas Country. You also have a plethora of streaming choices, some free and some subscription. That's all great but it can limit your exposure to new and different types of music if you let it. I have built 10 or 12 fairly specific Pandora stations but I usually shuffle all of them together when listening. I don't know if I fit the norm for my quest for variety or if most folks stick to a specific genre and/or time span. 

I have friends who only listen to Country or only Rock Oldies or young friends who only listen to Rap and Hip Hop. Seems very limiting to me. There is lotsa good music out there, also lotsa crap. Our options are so much better now. I can pretty much have music with me whenever I want and wherever I go. In fact, I do have all the music in the world with me all the time since I can get to it on my phone. I have about 800 of my songs downloaded on my phone so I can listen to them anytime, anywhere even without wi-fi or a cell signal. I also have over 7,500 songs that I own in the cloud. That's amazing for someone who once owned maybe 10 albums and an AM radio. That doesn't even include the streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, Google Music, Amazon and others that have millions of songs available.

So while there is no doubt that there is more music more easily available now, that does not necessarily mean it is better. The fact that anyone can easily record a song and make it available on the internet guarantees that much of it will be crap. Some of those folks have no talent. It also means that a diamond in the rough can more easily be discovered.

Every era and genre has had its outstanding music and also its terrible and ridiculous music. No doubt, there is more music more readily available today than in any time in the past. It is also far less expensive, much of it free. Yes, back in the day we had free radio but you had to listen to what the DJ played.

The good news is that music continues to be important. The next generation has to find their own sound. They often think the prior generation's (AKA parent's music) music is old fashioned. Sometimes as they get older they realize there was some good stuff in that old music collection mom & dad had. 

Like many things in life, there is no definitive answer to which era or generation had the best music. The only thing we can say for sure is that it was different. Different doesn't mean good or bad, it just means different.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Very Random Thoughts - August 2016

  • A popular start to news and talk shows is for the host to give a brief synopsis of what's coming and then say "Shows name starts right now". That is a lie. The phrase is invariably followed by a commercial or a long introduction montage. Right now should mean right now, not in a few minutes.
  • Another BS job title. Hulu has a Senior VP & Head of Experience. What the hell is that?
  • Since newsbiz broadcasts can't preface stories that are days old with "breaking news", they now start with a graphic saying "developing news". 
  • I know lawyers need to work too, but do we really need to file a lawsuit for every little perceived slight? 
  • So, which is correct? Chili, Chile, Chilli, Chillie, Chilly? Depends.
  • It seems to me governors that badmouth Washington and the federal government the most are also the first to demand federal aid and assistance.
  • Am I the only one who thinks universities and athletic conferences should tell the NCAA to stick it? 
  • Zero tolerance rules and laws mean zero human judgment, zero responsibility and zero accountability. They are a cop-out.
  • Stephen Colbert does a fake confessional bit called "Midnight Confessions" yet he doesn't use the song Midnight Confessions as the theme. Sacrilegious. 
  • What purpose does Vanna White serve on Wheel of Fortune? The electronic puzzle board letters don't need to be turned. She is proof that you don't need intelligence and hard work to be successful.
  • Meaningless phrase that needs to be retired from our vernacular - "It is what it is".
  • Take it further - "It was what it was". "It will be what it will be".
  • How can there be overweight UPS/FedEx drivers in Texas during the summer? Hot truck and carrying packages to doors, sometimes upstairs, often at a run.
  • I keep seeing TV ads for car insurance that say you can save $400 by switching to (name an insurance company). My question is if I switch to that company and then switch again to a different company, can I save another $400?
  • Watching the Little League World Series reminds me how much difference there can be between 12 year olds. Some are still little kids and some are 6' tall and have facial hair. I was one of the little ones. Still am.
  • Why is Tony the Tiger's nose blue?
  • Every generation thinks the one before them is old fashion, they are near perfect and the one behind them is useless. Somehow civilization continues. 
  • Watching the Little League World Series, it is obvious that the star player on some teams is surprised that they are not the best player on the field, maybe for the first time ever. Those other teams have good players too. Some rise to the occasion, some look like they give up.
  • There is a show on Comedy Central titled @midnight. In the Central time zone it comes on at 11:00 and now that The Nightly Show has been canceled it comes on at 10:30. Always risky to have a time, day or Live in the show title. 
  • "We have launched an internal investigation" never precedes a job well done. What the spokesperson really means is "we are looking for a scapegoat".
  • Don't you just hate it when you smash a bug and red blood comes out? You just know it is yours.
  • When someone states "This is not about me", you can be pretty damn sure that it is all about them.

Friday, August 12, 2016


Crime doesn't pay, cheaters never win or is that all bullshit? It certainly seems so in the case of one Alex Rodriguez. On Sunday, August 7, 2016, the Yankees and Rodriguez announced that he will play his last game as a Yankee and presumably the last game of his major league career on Friday, August 12th. Because the Yankees are giving Rodriguez his unconditional release, they are on the hook for the remaining $27 million of his contract plus he theoretically could sign with another team. Let's hope that doesn't happen. 

To add insult to insult to injury, Rodriguez will be a special advisor and instructor to the Yankees organization. I don't know whether that job includes more pay or if it is rolled into the $27 million payout. He is also free to pursue broadcast jobs which would definitely pay him and which he will definitely get offers for. Now if you only look at the numbers from his 22 year career you might think all this is fine. An old star player fades into the sunset with a huge severance and thank you package. Just look at some of his numbers. 

That's not how I see it. This is an asshole who made more money than any other Major Leaguer while playing a good part if not the majority of his career while taking performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). Then lying about it, gaming the system, mounting a legal and public relations defense and throwing others under the bus. He is baseball's version of Lance Armstrong only much richer. 

Young Alex was a helluva baseball player even at 18 years old. Of course, who knows whether he was already juiced even then. He was the first overall pick in the 1993 draft and was a part-time starter in Seattle by '94. He had seven terrific years there before signing a $252 million, 10 year contract with the Texas Rangers. It was a record setting contract and wound up hamstringing the Rangers budget for several years. Although he had all-star and MVP numbers while in Texas, he later admitted that he used PEDs during his time there. He also exhibited an aloof and phony demeanor during that time. After three years in Texas, he was traded to the Yankees although the Rangers continued to pay a significant portion of his salary, despite which he badmouthed the organization. He was mostly successful in NY although again the PED problem popped up. He also had several incidents of being an ass both on and off the field. 

This blog is not meant to be a recap of the Rodreguez career. It is meant to convey my total disgust at a first class cheater and pretty miserable excuse for a human being. The fact that he was able to collect almost $400 million in salary despite being at least a two time PED offender speaks volumes. Sure, he was suspended for a season but when you're already that rich what is the real punishment. On top of that, the Yankees were obligated to take him back after the suspension and pay him the remaining $50+ million on his contract. 

Back before the 1970's, the players were taken advantage of by the owners. That power pendulum started to swing towards the players when Marvin Miller became the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). Now that pendulum has swung too far in the player's favor. They have consistently blocked meaningful testing and punishment for PED use. Teams should be able to void the contracts of players who fail drug tests or other offenses. Rodriguez should have lost many more millions and been kicked to the street.

Instead, he get's gently let go at full pay from a team and a league that he trashed and with a free pass to possibly play again. The other disturbing point is that Rodriguez will almost certainly end up as a baseball analyst on one of the TV networks that broadcasts baseball. I will bet you large sums of money that we will see him as a regular commentator during the 2016 postseason. That will only be the beginning of his lucrative broadcast career in the future. 

A-Roid or A-Fraud earned those nicknames and he deserves to fade into the background never to be heard from again. His $400 million should be enough. Unfortunately, the Yankees, MLB and media started their image rehabilitation of A-Roid last season and it will continue. Let's hope the Hall of Fame voters don't forget what a fraud and disruptive force he was.

So who will be A-Roid's next employer? Will it be the Miami Marlins or some other desperate team? Will it be the MLB TV Network, Fox Sports, TBS or ESPN? 

Cheaters mostly win nowadays and big cheaters are even bigger winners. 


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Very Random Thoughts - July 2016

  • Since that child was killed by an alligator at Disney World, every gator siting anywhere has become a life threatening event that gets top coverage on the news.
  • I can't decide which would be worse in my old age. A failing body with a still functioning mind or a deteriorating brain trapped in a functioning body. I hope it all ends evenly and quickly. 
  • I'm old enough now that I can not ever contract an early onset disease or condition. 
  • Our sense of outrage is way off kilter. The news goes ballistic when a shark or alligator attack occurs. There are fewer than one deaths per year in the US from shark attacks. About the same for alligator attacks. Yet, there are over 30,000 US deaths each year from traffic "accidents" and another 30K+ deaths from firearms. Kinda screwed priorities and concerns.
  • Snakes get a bad rap too. They only cause about 5 or 6 deaths per year.
  • Same theme. If the news and social media didn't make a big deal out of (name an event). Would you give a shit?
  • I watch some old TV shows on cable. It is amazing how often the same guest star shows up on back to back on different shows. Today, James Coburn was on Combat and Stagecoach West.
  • Many gun advocates, including tRUMP, say that if more "good" people were armed, they could mitigate the terrorists and other bad guys. There is currently more than one gun per person in this country. When are those well armed folks going to defend the innocents? How many more guns per person (GPP) do we need?
  • Prostitutes screw folks one at a time. Politicians screw folks by the thousands or millions. I like prostitutes way more.
  • Seems every time there is a product recall, the first statement the manufacturer makes is "Safety is our number one priority". Just more corporate and legal BS.
  • If you want to see some bad acting, mute the sound. It is an amazing difference. 
  • How often do you hear a tone on TV or in a song and you reach to check your phone? I think some advertisements do it on purpose.
  • It is very hard to be sarcastic these days unless you stick a fucking smiley face after your comment.   Folks will either miss the sarcasm or be offended.
  • I'm an Eric Clapton fan, but I can't keep straight which of his songs were done with which group. Cream, Derek & The Dominoes, Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie or a solo.
  • If we were to go back to most of our favorite stores or restaurants from our youth, we would be appalled at how primitive they were. The only exception might be some of the grand old department stores since we have no great department stores anymore.
  • "Thoughts and prayers" is a phrase that shows up after every tragedy. It should be obvious that neither thoughts or prayers actually fix the problem.
  • Thought I had a smudge on my glasses. Took them off and I still had a blurred view. Seems the smudge was on my eye.
  • It's impossible to do wash in cold water during the summer in Texas. Closest I can do is warm since the water coming out of my cold water tap is 85°.
  • Thankfully the label on the tamales I just bought says in bold letters "Remove husks before eating". No wonder I always thought tamales were so tough to chew and digest. 
  • Why is it you can proofread an email or post a dozen times and not find an error? Yet, in those milliseconds between hitting the send key and it disappearing from the screen, a glaring error will become abundantly clear.
  • What would happen to The Open (The British Open golf tournament) if Scotland splits from England? Could it still be held at the Scottish courses like St. Andrew's and Royal Troon? Or, would it only be held on Scottish courses since the Royal & Ancient Golf Association is based at St. Andrew's?