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Take Your Time

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This story, Iraqis Say New Constitution in Six Months Is Unlikely give me hope. I am proud to see that the time is being taken to get the process right. To take the time now shows that you are willing to be anal about every step of the process. When you are restarting a country, there is no such thing as an insignificant detail. I am glad to see that the US and the key Iraqis are making haste slowly and ignoring the calls for a quick transfer of power. It took a long, hot summer in 1787 to draft our Constitution, let us hope that the results from this transaction will bloom and flower equally.

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UNDER GOD

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This article, High Court to Consider ‘One Nation, Under God’ Petition can set a rather serious precedent.

Not whether or not ‘Under God’ needs to be in the Pledge of Allegiance, but “Does one person have the leverage to change the entire country?”

The dimensions of this dilemma is many. Here’s a couple.

Is this person right? Every movement, every revolution starts with one person and a desire. But even with the best of intentions, you can do the right thing for the wrong reasons. So we must ask, is this person doing the Right Thing in doing this? If this revolution succeeds, will everybody be better than before? My answer is a resounding NO.

In the 220+ years since we proclaimed our independence, we have maintained a secular state that recognizes that the Rights of the People come from God, and it is the mission of Government is to stay out of those affairs. In that time, we have gone from a backwater colony to the greatest country on the planet. Clearly we have done something right. Our belief in God led us to a belief in the People, and we started an experiment that had never been tried before. We have been often copied, but never duplicated.

Should one person have this amount of power? The President, nominally the most powerful person on Earth, does not have the power to do this without help. For one person to affect millions of people for no particular reason does not sit well with me. His lack of a belief in God is his problem, it shouldn’t be mine. If he doesn’t like it, he has the freedom to move wherever he wants to get away from it. He should not have the power to affect 250 million people by himself.

Whether or not everybody still says “under God” if he wins is besides the point. His argument that this will lead to a government based religion has not happened in the past 50 years and the chance that it eventually will is exactly zero to 9 decimal places. The reason for this is we worship God in so many different ways that there is no chance that enough of us will get together to establish such a religion. The important fact is that you realize there is a Creator who wants you to worship Him and do your best in every area you wish to, no matter if you worship Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah or Vishnu.

In my opinion, this man is doing the wrong thing for bad reasons. He is asking for something that he has no right to ask for, and no good result is possible if he prevails.

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I’m a Grandpa! (sort of)

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I’ve told you about my Sun Conures Rocket and Corkscrew. I have some other birds as well. I also have 4 Zebra Finches as well for a total of 6 birds. I keep a brother-sister pair, Spot and Plucky, in one cage and a breeding pair, Ozzie and Silver in another. Silver laid a clutch of five eggs a couple of weeks ago, and starting this weekend, a chick a day has been hatching. Four of the five chicks have hatched, and I’m waiting on the last egg. The chicks are cute, they look like a hairy inch long worm. And they are always hungry. Now starts the 6-8 week process while they grow up. When they are old enough, I take them to the pet store so they can have a family of their own.

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Rockets are Fun

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I tried launching a few of my model rockets today. And, like NASA, I got a scrubbed launch due to weather. The wind was whipping around too fast for a lot of launches. I got one in, but it took off and instead of going straight up, it leaned into the wind and had a large amount of horizontal distance involved. It landed about 3/4 of a mile away, in chest high soybeans. If I didn’t have a locator beacon on it, I never would have found the rocket.

There are three different subsets to model rocketry. There is the true model rocketry, which the rockets are generally 6″ to 24″ in size and use A to D powered motors. Then there is mid-powered rocketry, where the rockets are 2 to 4 feet long and use E to G motors. Then there is High Powered Rocketry, where rockets start big and go toward massive. These use H and up motors. I included motor sizes because I wanted to tell you about them. Every letter you go up, you double the total power of the motor. Two C’s equal one D, Two J’s equal one K. But, one K equals 256 C’s.

When I say High Power Rockets are big, I mean big. As in 1/3rd scale, 1/2 scale, in one instance full scale of a real life missile. It is not out of the ordinary to see a 1/3rd scale V2 rocket at some of the larger launches. The difference is we build ours out of cardboard tubes and Fiberglas, not metal. Instead of a warhead, we have a parachute so we can recover the rocket intact and fly it again. Rockets also have no guidance system, they just go up and come back down again, hopefully the take off and landing sites are close together.

I have a high power project of my own underway. The last one didn’t fare too well, you can see before and after shots of them with me. The landing on this one was a little rough. The parachute didn’t come out like it was supposed to and it fell straight down from 3,000 feet, driving the nose cone about a foot deep into hard packed soil. It was a total loss. Hey, it happens.

Now comes the fun part. I am a rocket scientist. I must understand and harness the same principals of construction and flight dynamics as those big boys at NASA. The only significant difference is their budget is bigger than mine, so of course their rockets are bigger.

Rocketry is a fun sport that can be enjoyed by children and adults, boys and girls, and it is frequently a family event. Try it today and see!

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Do Not Call

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The telemarketers of today can trace their roots back to the door-to-door salesman. While this salesman did sell products that weren’t in stores of the day, they got a lot of doors slammed in their faces. Not a job for the easily discouraged.

The difference between then and now is you used to be able to see the person before you opened the door. You also didn’t get three salesmen every day either.

Today, telemarketing is big business. Despite aggravating millions of people, enough people accept the calls and partake of the product to make it profitable.

But that does not make it right. The right to swing your arm, so the old saying goes, stops at my nose. Salesmen by definition invade your space and demand your attention so they can sell you a product. TV commercials are louder than the show you are watching to get your attention. But there used to be counters to salesmen. People who didn’t want to talk to the Fuller Brush Man would post a No Salesmen sign on their doors. Salesmen that didn’t heed the signs usually ended up explaining their illiteracy to the Sheriff. And so goes our electronic list today. A great multitude of people who want to hang “No Telemarketers” signs on their telephones. They must be afforded this right.

There are no easy answers. If the list goes through, thousands of telemarketers will undoubtedly lose their jobs. A disproportionate number might very well be homebound individuals that have no other job choice. I don’t like to hear of people who are struggling to get by getting kicked in the teeth. I have no alternative for them either. But they knew the job was dangerous going in. To willingly invade another persons privacy takes a personality trait that I do not have. I know, I have tried sales at various points of my life, and I felt guilty every second of it.

Privacy is a deeply held American way of life. It isn’t in the Constitution, but it is in our hearts. We have the most personal space in the world. Americans for hundreds of years have gone into the wilderness to get privacy. Let’s respect that, for others as well as ourselves.

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The right thing to do

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This article, Eight killed in fire at Nashville nursing home, brings up the urgent need for what I call an Anti-Manager.

The job of an Anti-Manager is to break decisions made by the company. To analyze realistic “what if…” scenarios and the consequences thereof. My last job as an IT manager was in part to do just that. Y2K, key personnel being incapacitated, fires, hackers, systems breaking down, the whole works. Once you figure out what is likely to happen, then you draw up plans to combat such disasters.

In this case, the decision was probably consciously made that installing a sprinkler system was too expensive. The Anti-Manager was not there to say, “Is the sprinklers more or less costly than the bad press and lawsuits from the children of our clients that would die in such a fire, when not if it happens?”

The psychiatric facility that I have stayed in the last few times did the right thing the last time I was there. At no small expense, they installed a sprinkler system throughout the facility. I like this facility, not just because it is clean and nice and serves eatable food, but because of the services provided. They have hired a psychologist who provides training on how to plan out your life to take control of your illness, and how to handle the inevitable crises that occur. The other places I have been have more of a “catch and release” philosophy. They hold on to you until you stabilize, then let you go. Sometimes you have group therapy, but it seems more to pass the time than anything else.

But I digress.

Conservative thought needs to flow from reasoned planning of the consequences of planned actions, both good and bad. Don’t say, “This will never happen…”, that is wishful thinking that will blindside you when it does happen. You may choose not to go that way, but it never hurts to have a plan if you get dragged down that path anyways.

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Stupid Schools

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I don’t have a link to this because the only one that has a permanent link is so full of pablum that it’s supporting the principal on this. Yecch.

A local high school principal has codified in an official internal memo to her teachers something that is simply inexcusable. What makes it appalling is the fact that this has been an unwritten, yet still official, Memphis City Schools policy for some time now. By putting this into a written memo, she has given the local media and outraged parents something to hang their hats on.

This principal made sure that the teachers knew that they were to give grades no lower than a C to students.

This absolutely screams “Liberal” to me.

“Let’s not bruise their self-esteem by holding them back. We need to keep them with their peer group.”
I think their little ego needs a dropkick if they won’t do the work. I would rather kick an 18 year old 8th grader out of school than give them a diploma and let them think they actually deserve it.

“Don’t worry, they’ll understand the material and catch up in the next grade.”
Each grade builds upon the prior grade and gets harder as you go along. What makes you think someone who hasn’t done the work one grade will suddenly turn around and do basically two grades at once?

“The entire system would be wrecked if we held back everybody who didn’t pass.”
If the system isn’t working, a new system needs to be tried and tried again until a workable solution has been found.

“I don’t want to fail those gang-bangers. They’ll kill me for failing them.”
This one I can believe. But that’s not a very Enlightened kind of thought.

A proposal surfaced in the School Board a couple of weeks ago to fire all of the teachers and administrators at the worst failing schools, then retest them before hiring them back. It of course was opposed by the teachers union, as well as the Mayor of Memphis, who used to be the School Superintendent. The proposal went down in flames, but may come back as something else. Time will tell.

I am allergic to knee-jerk ideas. While this idea sounds good on the surface, it is only part of the problem. Teachers should be tested annually to make sure they have the knowledge to teach the material. They should receive training annually on how to teach. Nothing closes minds as quickly as material presented by Ben Stein.

Parents and the students themselves also need to take the blame on this as well. Parents are the key motivator for the students. No motivation at home, no motivation at school. Also, you can have the best teachers on the planet, but if the kids don’t want to learn, nothing is going to change that. Consequences need to be made clear and then carried out if the work isn’t done. If you don’t follow through, you have all of the credibility of the United Nations.

While there are no simple answers, the first change must come from the school system. Once they regain the focus of actually teaching the students and not supporting false self-esteem, three-quarters of the problem will be solved.

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IMPORTANT:

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My soul needs a little baring, so you, the reader, know some important things about who I am. I have several items to write about, but I am going to purposefully leave this on top for a day or so to make sure everyone sees what kind of person I really am. I don’t want people to think I’m an all-right kind of guy.

I had a conversation the other day that reminded me that actions have long term consequences. With five years of verified mental illness under my belt, I can look farther back and see years more of undiagnosed mental illness. Passed off at he time as “just being weird,” I was running a pretty constant 5 to 7 on the mania 10 scale. Impulsive and excessive spending, impulsive decisions, the whole works.

In May of 1997, I forced my wife into taking a vaccine shot that I thought was important. She was hesitant, but in my “normal” style, I bulldozed her into taking it. She ended up having a severe reaction to the mercury in the vaccine. Being scared and impulsive, I buried the her and the problem, making believe that it didn’t exist. A year later, through nothing less than a miracle, my wife made contact with just the right person at the company that made the vaccine, by accident. This person set up a case for her. All related health care would be free, plus a healthy annual stipend was hers if I would just fill out one piece of paper. I didn’t do it. I was so deep into denial about the problem, so intent on making it go away rather than solving it, I did nothing.

To this day, my wife still has a multitude of health problems and disabilities, all related to the vaccine or the cascading of problems from not treating it in a timely fashion.

There are several other intense incidents of similar fashion, but I think this one sets the bar pretty high.

Believe it or not, things got worse after I became ill in 1999. For the next four years I ping-ponged between manic 10 and depressive 10. I became dangerous during my manic swings. I became abusive to my family. My wife, who was trying to protect me, would do her best to prevent me from doing fatally stupid things. Being so manic, interruption of my impaired thought processes led to train wrecks of monumental proportions. I did my best to keep that manic train rolling, including over her if necessary. There are multiple fist-sized holes at the level of her head in various locations. While I have never struck her, I have done other equally reprehensible things to her.

If I didn’t have a built-in insanity defense, I would have gone to jail for spousal abuse on multiple occasions. Instead, I was shipped off to a psychiatric facility for a few weeks where they tried some new drugs on me and then dumped me back home for the cycle to start all over again. It took a hospitalization after I got a job for things to change. My wife made it clear to everyone involved that I had my own money now and I would have to use that money to find a separate place to live.

So now on top of a debilitating illness that I inflicted on her, I have given my wife a generous case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Bring up the wrong subject or person, and she relives these and other terrifying moments of her life with the same amount of terror that she had going through the original events themselves. These memories do not fade with time. It was just such a moment that prompted this blog entry. I am unable to atone for my actions, because my wife can relive them all with perfect clarity on a moments notice. Short of Jesus descending from heaven and healing her body and spirit, neither one of us can move forward from those years of terror. She lives everyday with the aftermath of the carnage I have caused, and I live everyday with the knowledge that I am responsible for doing it.

So you see, I have some very large and noisy skeletons in my closet.

The sad part is, I have always had a pretty good ability to analyze, define and solve problems. But when it comes to the problems I face in my own life, all I can do is beat my head and scream, “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!” Even when my wife literally leads me through the problem all the way up to the solution, I am totally clueless and avoidant to the problem.

And this is one reason for this blog. Not just to document my trials and tribulations, but to induce deep, introspective self-critical thought in you, the reader. Thoughts and processes so you know where you are and why you are there. Before you can follow a map to treasure, you must first know where you are so you know where to start from. All the directions are worthless if you don’t know where you are.

Good night.

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More TV. Yecch.

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Tonight is more TV, Enterprise, West Wing and Law and Order. I don’t care too much about WW, but I’m curious as to which way it comes out.

I also have a special work day tomorrow, I’m taking my clients to the Mid-South Fair. Believe me, you and I have a lot to talk about when I get the time to write it all down.

Good Night.

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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.

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