me

Do you want to know more about the guy who's on the other side of your screen, saying all this stuff?

Then come right in...

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These are my Mission Statements.

rant

These are my longer "deep-dive" articles on specific subjects so they don't get lost.

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The fun stuff that doesn't fit elsewhere.

Pass/Fail

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I found this article, YOU HAVEN’T ‘FAILED’ – YOU’VE ‘NEARLY PASSED’ and it upsets me.

In the US, we’re already three-quarters of the way there with being self-esteem centric in our schools and scoreless sports. The self-esteem being taught in our schools today is a false one, because it avoids failure. This is the absolutely worst thing you can do to a child. School is supposed to teach children to handle life. Sacrificing the truth about weather or not they succeed on a test or project does nothing but set them up to fail when they get out into the real world.

Out in the real world of having a job, you have very clear pass/fail standards. If you don’t consistently pass, you lose your job. The people who graduate from high school and realize that the school had stupidly easy standards feel let down because the school failed on it’s basic premise.

Making things easy and not really grading also teaches children not to try. When they realize that they pass without putting any effort into a project, they stop putting effort into anything important.

Feeling good and getting a self-esteem boost when you win is easy. You just pick on someone weaker than yourself. Earning self-esteem is when you pick on someone bigger or better and winning.

Sometimes failure is the best way to teach self-esteem. No matter where you go in life, no matter what you do, someone will always be better than you. When you are defeated, you have to ask yourself, “Did I do the absolute best I could?” If you did, then you have nothing to be ashamed of. You take that and everything you learned and make yourself better than you were before. Then go out and try again. That is the American way.

Small business owners frequently fail in their first several business attempts. NASCAR can only have one winner out of 30 or so cars racing. Even the best professional baseball players only get a hit 1 out of every 3 at bats. None of these guys give up, they keep plugging at it until they win. Or should we let them “win” first time, every time?

In MechWarrior:Dark Age, the wargame that I play, there are two prizes handed out at a sanctioned tournament. First is Champion, for the guy who had the best record of the night. The other prize is Fellowship. This goes to the player who was the best sport. This is typified by who helped out less experienced opponents, who didn’t lose their cool when getting the stuffing knocked out of them by a superior player and so on. The Fellowship prize helps foster a positive attitude among all of the players. Sometimes, not very often, the Fellowship prize is actually better than the Champion prize. That really makes things interesting.

We are doing irreparable harm to our children when we feed their self-esteem this way. We teach them to take the easy path that goes nowhere instead of the difficult path that leads to the stars. Please don’t do this to your kids.

TV is taking priority tonight

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Sorry there’s no posting tonight. In a very rare case, I’m watching TV for the whole night. NCIS, Tactical to Practical and Law and Order:SVU. I’ve got some stuff for tomorrow.

Fixing the blog

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Quick note. I got the note back from tech support and I did what they told me to do. Let’s see if the changes work.

Blog is acting up

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The page is acting up again. Please go to the archives and then hit the back button. That way you can see the whole page.

Fat Chance

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I found this article, Overweight workers say they’re often overlooked. The article is trying to make a case to add weight discrimination to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Weight is the one thing under your control. You can’t change your skin color or your age. You can change your sex, but only after a lot of work and surgery. You have the ability to manage your weight. When you abdicate control of your weight to the TV and billboards, no wonder you’re overweight in no short order.

People should be ashamed if they are overweight. The sad news is many people who are ashamed they are overweight retreat into the very food that made them fat in the first place, exacerbating the problem. To put the blame on anything but yourself is known as transference. It’s like a tennis pro blaming the racket for his losing the match. Which is why we are seeing lawsuits against McDonald’s for people being fat. The only thing Mickey is guilty of is really good advertising.

We are programmed to like fat. It gives you the highest calorie per weight ratio out there. And when you are a hunter-gatherer who might get only one substantial meal every couple of days, fat is where it’s at.

But today we are a culture who lives at McDonald’s. Every item there is high in fat and calories. Even the salad has a ton of calories if you drown it in Thousand Island dressing. It’s okay if you have a meal there once a week, that’s known as moderation. But Americans today don’t know what moderation means. We are constantly barraged with ads about food. And so we are programmed when the slightest bit of hunger surfaces, we go and have a Big Mac Meal, super size the deep fat fried potatoes and the liquid sugar soda. Extra Mayo and cheese please.

A weight problem occurs only when you eat more food than your body consumes. I know the answer isn’t as simple as that, but that is the fact. If your activity level is zero and you eat 5,000 calories a day, you are going to be huge in no time at all. The only good thing about my depression is that I frequently skip meals. I’ve lost 30 pounds and want to lose at least 10 more. I don’t recommend the “depression diet” to anybody.

I recently came into possession of some Ritz “Butter and Garlic” crackers. Someone gave them to me, I would never have bought them on my own. When you look at the nutritional information on the side of the box, it says: Calories per serving: 80 not too bad Calories from fat: 35 that’s only…Let’s see…44% FAT Serving size: 5 Crackers. 5 crackers? 5 crackers! 5 stinking crackers! Nobody eats just 5 crackers! Of course, you don’t eat just 5 crackers, you usually eat an entire sleeve, which is about 35 crackers. That comes out to be 560 calories. And that’s just a snack. 560 calories is supposed to be 25% of you’re total intake for the entire day! Put that on top of three super sized meals and no wonder this country is so overweight.

Weight control falls under the Conservative ideal of personal responsibility. If you’re overweight, it will take a lot of time, effort and sweat to get back to a healthy size. And when you achieve that goal, you also gain something else. Good, solid, deserved self-respect. Self-discipline. The ability and confidence to solve any problem ahead of you. That makes it all worthwhile.

Vote early and often

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One of the items on my list today is to vote. Memphis has an election on October 9th and we have early voting for the couple of weeks before it.

Voting is one of the two obligations that every citizen should do. The other is some kind of personal service. Peace Corps, Americorps, military, take your pick. Spend some years of your youth and work in a low pay job that makes a difference around the world. I personally lucked out. I spent 13 years in the Navy and spent half of it in Hawai’i. :)

It is the job of the citizen to keep his mouth open. Let your elected officials know what you think. Vote for who you think will do the best job, even if it seems to be the lesser of two evils. If you don’t vote, you don’t have any grounds to complain when you get screwed by them.

You may think “my vote doesn’t count,” but the only way it doesn’t count is if you don’t vote.

Vote every chance you can. And thank God you have this sacred power.

I envy you guys

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I would love to get up at 6am again. It would give me plenty of time to surf and find appropriate stories for you to read when you get to work. It would give me hope that I can face the day. I got 9 hours of sleep last night before the alarm went off at 8 this morning, and I still stayed in bed until 10:30. This angers me to no end. I want to get up, but the depression drags me back down again. The ironic thing about it was it was like someone threw a switch. One moment it was impossible to get up, the next moment no problem. I wished that would work for the rest of the day. I’m working myself up to actually shave and brush my teeth next.

Living with depression is like living with an extra 100 pounds. But instead of it being around your waist, or in a backpack, it’s all carried on your neck and shoulders. It drives your center of gravity forward so you are off balance. It curves your spine so you’re always looking down. It makes your knees buckle so every step is unsure. If you’re not careful you can be driven to your knees. When I am overwhelmed I literally feel every pound on my neck and shoulders. When a decision or problem weighs heavily on you, that load can be shared with family and friends. I don’t have that luxury.

Do you see what I see?

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I don’t know if y’all are seeing what I am or not. About 2/3rds of the current post is the only thing that shows up. To see the entire post and the rest of my prior posts you’ll have to go to the archives. Sorry, I don’t know why it’s doing it or how to fix it. I’ll be asking for help on Monday.

To Be a Conservative

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There is a difference, as the old saying goes, between good, sound ideas and ideas that sound good. I think this pretty much means the difference between Conservatives and Liberals. True Conservatives have definite, solid reasons and reasoning behind their positions on any subject they take a stand on. Liberals will, by and large, either default to “Because it’s the right thing to do.” or start spewing meaningless statistics from a left-wing group. These statistics rarely stand up to critical review.

Let’s take gun-control for an example. I have a clear bias, I am pro Second Amendment, I am a life member of the NRA, and before I got sick I had a Concealed Weapons License.

A Liberal will spew “10 children a day are killed by guns.” Of course, who wouldn’t want to save 10 children a day? That’s the emotional hook. But if you found out that most weren’t children, that they would probably die even if there weren’t any guns, would your position change then? Would that prompt you to determine the source of the problem, rather than treating a non-existent symptom? The bad news is they fail to define “children.” You are left to think 7 and 8 year-olds, while in fact, about 8.5 of those 10 are actually 15+ years old. And to round it up to 10, they had to include 18 and 19 year old ADULTS as well.

“…[T]here were just 20 fatal gun accidents among children under the age of 5 in 1998. Contrast this with phony claims you hear about “10 children a day killed by guns.” The greatest part of that factoid comes from gang-related homicides perpetrated by inner-city, 17-to-19-year-old male criminals.

(Excerpted from the article “Not-so Safe Storage Laws” by Dave Kopel, Dr. Paul Gallant & Dr. Joanne Eisen of the Independence Institute, published in National Review Online 10/18/00.)

Of course the death of a child is a tragedy. Even if the “child” is a member of a gang, capable of performing deadly violence on anybody who gets in his way. But it is by no means an accident. That young adult made a conscience choice to get involved with groups known for consistent and brutal violence. In some of these groups you actually have to commit a murder to be a member of the gang.

John Lott, in trying to show gun control actually works, decisively proved to peer review that 2.5 million (2,500,000) crimes are prevented every year by armed private citizens. Now for the sake of argument, let’s say that we were able to get rid of all guns in private hands. Would that cut down on the “10 children a day”? Probably not. They would use baseball bats, or knives, or whatever was on hand. Would that cause more crime? Absolutely. By at least 2.5 million a year.

Do you see the difference? I did a yahoo search and found a bunch of sites, more of which were promoting the “10 children a day” than were opposing it.

They are too fixated on the factiod to question it. Liberals don’t care that most of it is gang-related. If you take away the gang members, the rate drops to about 1.5 a day. Less than drowning. Less than poisoning. Liberals don’t like guns, they don’t like the common citizen having so much power and responsibility, so they are willing to quote any absurdity to justify their position. And the people who do it because “it sounds good” fall right in line behind them.

On any subject, which category do you fall under? Good, sound reasons or reasons that sound good?

Living with depression

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This is the reason for this blog. For me to tell you people what it is like to live with a mental illness.

My alarm clock went off at 8 am this morning. I am trying to get up at the same time every day for stability. That means no sleeping in. I got up long enough to feed my birds, then I was driven back to bed to hide from the world. This wasn't a fear attack, but rather a "I can't face anything" type of attack. 8 o'clock suddenly became 11:30. I am angry over this. But then the definition of depression is "anger without the enthusiasm." On a 10 scale of being depressed, I am about a 5. This slope I am on is steep and slippery. Below me lies closet time and suicide attempts. Above me lies normalcy. I struggle with easy things. Personal hygiene is a monumental task. I don't smell, but if I shave twice a week, that's good. If I brush my teeth 5 times, that's outstanding. Taking the trash 30 feet outside the back door might as well be climbing Everest. I know these things need to be done. I want to do them. I know they are not hard to do. But actually completing the task is nigh impossible.

But I also have an added danger in my life: mania. "Normal" bipolars spend months or years on either side of the scale before falling off the other side. I myself was mistakenly diagnosed as ADD instead of bipolar. I spent most of my life on the manic side. A fast cycling bipolar can literally switch in seconds. Several of my suicide attempts were preceded by a severe manic swing. I experienced a perceptual narrowing (I overfocused on something small and insignificant) on something dangerous. When my wife got through to me about how stupid I was being, I would go from a manic 10 to a depressive 10. These severe manic swings also led to trips to the hospital under police escort. I was on a first name basis with the police that specialize in handling emotionally disturbed people. Luckily the Memphis police don't carry Tasers, I would have been brought down at least twice that way. Let me clarify something. I was a standard bipolar (diagnosed as ADD) until I started taking Effexor in January of 1999. This drug piledrived me into a depressive swing and I have been like a ping-pong ball ever since. My first hospitalization was in early 2000 and I have had at least 15 hospitalizations, the last one in November 2002. My last manic episode seems to have been in May, and I have settled on my "slightly depressive" spot ever since. Now is the time to move up emotionally. Wish me luck.

I'm sorry Mr. Ashcroft

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I happened across this article, Ashcroft rips 'Patriot' critics and I have to stand against the AG on this one. I think it is always a bad idea to pass 'knee-jerk' legislation. It violates a lot of freedoms and rarely actually addresses the problem it is supposed to solve.

Ashcroft's comments came after the release of a memo he wrote disclosing that the Justice Department has never used a controversial section of the Patriot Act that allows authorities in terrorism investigations to obtain records from libraries, bookstores and other businesses without notifying the subject of the probe.

Just because you haven't used provisions of a bad law doesn't mean that you won't in the future. I don't know everything about the Patriot Act, but I do know that opening doors like this make them very hard to close. I know they already do similar things in RICO and Drug related cases. I still don't like it. With today's interlinked society, your buying habits are closely scrutinized and studied. Why? So you can be targeted with personalized advertising, to get you to stay brand loyal or to jump ship. Every time you use a check or credit card, a record is made with your name and info, to be kept on file at that place of business for who knows how long. To have a barcode on your receipt means that store is tracking you by name. They can tell you what you buy, how much, how often and if you prefer store brand over brand name or not. They know which credit cards you use, and can guess how many you have in total based on statistical averages. Use a frequent shopper card? You're in it up to your eyeballs now. I could go to my local grocer, drop my FSC in the basket, and just walk the aisles, and 90% of my shopping would automatically fall into my basket, based entirely on my past shopping habits. I'm bipolar, not paranoid. I know all about the data mining being done on me every day because I used to be a data miner. Because of my financial and emotional position, I don't make impulse purchases anymore. Every dollar spent, every transaction is checked and verified internally before I actually spend the money. If it is necessary, I know where, when and how to make a "transaction free" purchase. And the answer isn't just paying cash. To allow law-enforcement access to those records for any reason without a court order is scary to me. The tools are there for police to find data that didn't exist 10 years ago. There are commercial tools that document sales that didn't exist 10 years ago. I don't mind the tools, I mind how easy it is to get permission to use them. To be able to call an investigation "Terrorism related" and get a pass on any meaningful control scares the daylights out of me. The depth that the governmental anal probes can reach get a little deeper every year. If law-enforcement on any level decided to perform a a maximum effort investigation on me, very little outside of my own thoughts are safe. Considering the content of this blog, even my thoughts can be scrutinized. Scary stuff.

The Dreaded Knock

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I got a rude awakening this morning about 1:30am. The apartment got a loud knock for some reason.

The only two knocks you get at that time of the morning are "police raid" or "death of a family member." It dumped a large amount of adrenalin into my system and took a while to go back to sleep.

Short on time again, nothing really interesting on the news web sites. I'll post something conservative tomorrow when I have the time.

UPDATE: I meant to say the apartment ABOVE. I did not get the knock, but the people above (or maybe even next door).

What I do

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I've already stated that I work part time. I put in three days a week at a Drop-In Center, which is a socialization center for people who have a mental health diagnosis. It's a job requirement that the staff also have a mental health diagnosis as well. It's so we can better relate to our clients.

I drive for the center. I go out and pick these people up and take them to the center. In the afternoon, I take them home. In between, I interact with them. These are people who by and large will never be a contributing member of society. A good portion of these people also have developmental disabilities such as mental retardation on top of being schizophrenic, or bipolar, or whatever they have. Seeing these people struggle against what you don't even think about helps me do my best to make it through the day. Most of them are happy, because they can't even conceive of the things that are beyond them. They look forward to coming to our center like normal kids look forward to going to Disneyland.

Me? I feel like Charlie Gordon in Flowers for Algernon. I remember when I was an Information Technology Manager, my work affecting hundreds of employees and thousands of customers. I used to eat stress and deadlines like candy. Now I must carefully manage myself. If I get too excited or stressed, I end up on the manic side of the scale. That means my productivity drops to zero and I run around like a headless chicken, followed quickly by my ending up back in the closet, screaming like I'm being tortured. I dream about being an IT manager again only 3 to 4 times a day. Followed by the realization that I still have a long way to go, plus there are things that must change externally to me as well before I can go job hunting again.

And I thought I was crazy

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This article, Albright Still Unqualified, rips the Clinton Secretary of State a new one. I always knew she was in over her head. I just didn't realize that she put on cement overshoes before wading in.

The Democratic Party's fixation on race and gender explains why black Supreme Court justices can't be conservative, why Hispanic parents should not want their kids to learn English, and why members of both hues should all think alike. It explains how you get Gray Davis supporters shouting "He's a for'ner!" about an immigrant candidate, and how you get the Democratic governor responding that if you can't pronounce the word "California," you shouldn't be governor. It's also how you get the Democratic Party of Minnesota discouraging black Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Alan Paige from running to fill the late Paul Wellstone's Senate seat in last November's elections.

I for one would not want to discourage Alan Paige from doing anything he wants to do. He was a fearsome linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings back in the 70's. I have no doubt he could still stick your left foot in your right ear if he wanted to.

Gotta go to work

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Today is one of my work days. I did manage to get up early and make it through my blog and news list. I'm running out of time, so posting is light this morning.Right now my two Sun Conures Rocket and Corkscrew are on me, cleaning me. They're not happy unless they can spend some time on Daddy. I even have a special shirt for them to tear up. They are especially noisy when I get back from being out. They don't quiet down until I put on their shirt and let them out. I keep their visits down to about 10 minutes or so, then put them back so they can have a "poopy break" so they don't do it on me.

The one thing I wanted to comment on is this story, where Governor Davis made an interplanetary gaffe:

"My vision is to make the most diverse state on earth, and we have people from every planet on the earth in this state. We have the sons and daughters of every, of people from every planet, of every country on earth," he said.

As if California didn't have enough trouble with illegal Mexicans, they have to worry about illegal Venusians and Martians as well. Heh.