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As long as you aren't a spammer, your respectful comments will be posted. Fair warning, you want to go Godwin's Law on me, the Ban Hammer comes down.


Depression is a thief

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I have been an enthusiastic player of wargames for years. I would spend hours pouring over the statistics and charts of weapon systems, studying how they would interact with other systems, devising tactics and counter tactics. And I was good. In some games I was almost unbeatable.

Even with MechWarrior, before a match I would invest 2-3 hours in developing several battle forces, analyzing each force for strengths and weaknesses. Last night, I was ready to skip the entire thing. I just didn’t feel up to it. But my son looks forward to these events, so I picked him up and off we went. I just threw a force together and lost both games. Even when I was winning, my failure to properly use my forces led to my losing more than my opponent actually defeating me.

Depression steals enjoyment. Even the things that you love to do becomes too much of a bother to actually expend the effort. You would rather spend time staring at a blank wall for hours than doing constructive things. The depression makes you sad. Your inability to do things you once loved compounds the situation, heaping sadness upon sadness. All you can dwell on is the sadness, so anything you can do to get away from the sadness is the best you can hope for.

I have to brute force my way out of my sickness like John Nash (A Beautiful Mind ). I have tried about three-quarters of the anti-depressants currently on the market, and they have either drove me into a manic frenzy, done nothing or given me severe side-effects. I am documenting my struggles not only to provide insight to you, my readers, but to help me combat this thief.

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Slipping A Bit

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I think I’m down to a 6 on the depression scale. Things seem just a little greyer lately. Yesterday, I was actually awake at 7:45 in the morning, but I couldn’t get out until 9:30. I remember being a hard charger. While I didn’t leap out of bed, I made it out in good order, got ready and got to work. Yesterday I might as well been trying to move a mountain with a teaspoon. To lie there, helpless, makes me angry. But it wasn’t enough to get me going.

Another thing is food. I no longer enjoy eating. To me, food is simply fuel to keep me going. I don’t enjoy the taste, I don’t savor the company if I am out eating with my family or friends, as long as it isn’t nasty, it’s just “okay.” I have all of the excitement of eating as I do taking a dump. They are both the same to me, merely something that must be done.

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Tree Huggers

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Talk about timing. Less than a minute after my last post, I found this story, Everglades Cleanup Exposes Environmentalists.

One thing’s for sure. The Everglades controversy is a great showcase for the eco-activists’ insincerity and unreasonableness.

This just goes to show you. It sounds like to me that the level of run-off and the timetables were pretty much pulled out of a hat. It also shows that the eco’s target is not to clean the water, but to unreasonably curtail the runoff in the first place.

I lost the link, but a related story said that we have to double our farm output in the next 30 years or so to take care of the world’s exploding population. That means we are going to have to accept the possibility of some environmental damage to related lands. But when there are ways like this that can handle the run-off and side effects, we ought to applaud their achievement and ingenuity, not scrap our present farming practices and lose years of progress into more efficient farming.

Wildlife areas left to themselves are not balanced. They need some kind of maintenance. Look at our great forests out west. By correctly managing them, wildlife populations are controlled, underbrush is cut back and in case of fire, the fire is easily controlled. By not managing them, animals such as deer go through periods of population explosions, followed by periods of famine and/or encroachment into suburbs and cities. Wildfires take thousands of acres and hundreds of homes.

The greatest conservators of wildlife and their habitats are hunters and fishermen. The money raised from their licenses helps maintain wetlands, rivers and wildlife preserves. Their hunting keeps the population under control and is a humane way to cull the herds. It is in the hunters best interest to keep the forest in good shape, the herds in good health, and they quietly do the job.

The eco-terrorists on the other hand, have only personal and political power as their goals. They do not see progress by Man as a good thing. Of course, they need their SUV’s, but nobody else should have them. They do not care if a tenth of the local large animal population starves to death over the winter instead of humanely culled, they want nature to be “pristine” and “unspoiled by man.” They are driven by their own neurosis to do unreasonable things and despised acts.

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Outage Problems

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My cable access had a major problem today. My cable modem kept resetting, so I took it to the local office and had it swapped. After that, the new one wouldn’t initialize properly. By the time that got straightened out, I had a total service outage. Once the connection finally came up, I was backlogged so that only now do I have the time to get to cruising the news sites. Not much time left, I have to take my son to our weekly MechWarrior tournament where we beat the snot out of each other.

I also have to go into work early tomorrow, so no morning posting. I will be off early so look forward on some insightful commentary Friday night.

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Personal stuff

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I haven’t written any personal stuff over the past couple of days because I haven’t been up to it. I’ve been trying to fight the depression and I have slipped back somewhat. While I did get up at 8:30 this morning without a problem, today was the exception. Monday night was particularly rough. I hit a low that I haven’t hit in a while that night, followed by having to get up early for work. I was not at my best yesterday.

Right now I’m just perusing until my Case Manager arrives, then I have some family time planned.

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Consumer Spending Up

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Finally! A piece that is positive on the economy and without left-handed “compliments.” Consumer spending increases.

Let’s get this straight. Spending disposable income is good for the economy. Let’s take a look at a supply chain below:

  • Raw materials manufacturer
  • Transport company #1
  • Subassembly manufacturer
  • Transport company #2
  • Product manufacturer
  • Transport company #3
  • Wholesaler
  • Transport company #4
  • Retail store

Of course, in some cases like Wal-Mart, things like the Wholesaler, TC #4 and Retail store are inside the same company, but the steps are still there. There are other exceptions as well, but this list is pretty accurate most of the time.

In the case of increased spending, everybody gets more business, everybody gets more money and everybody pays more taxes. Taxing that dollar as it moves through each step means it is taxed over and over again, both in corporate taxes and payroll taxes from the workers. This is where the increased tax revenues comes from.

The other important part is whenever a company hires an unemployed worker, that worker converts from being a tax consumer to a tax creator. Instead of consuming $300 a week in unemployment benefits, they turn into someone who pays taxes. Don’t look at just what he makes, look at the total swing in taxes, then multiply that by the thousands for everybody who made it off the rolls.

The other news is, it takes time for things to move through the supply chain. The increase in demand at the retail store won’t be felt at the manufacturing level until a couple of months from now. Companies like several months of increased business before they look at hiring. This plus the delay in the supply line will always mean that hiring will always lag the economic indicators. Considering the time of the year, things will really be jumping around Christmas, on top of the normal holiday rush. Normally, manufacturing peaks at this time of year for Christmas. Additional demand from today’s spending should extend the manufacturing sector busy time until January or so at the minimum.

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Bad lawmaking

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Here is another classic piece of knee-jerk legislation. Lawmakers seek ban on sniper rifle. Maryland lawmakers want to add a specific model to their list of “bad” guns. They obviously don’t know anything about firearms because if they did, their aim would be better.

In reflexive action, they want to add a specific, by brand name, rifle to a statewide and federal ban on non-existent “assault weapons.” If these lawmakers knew their ass from a hole in the ground, they should be trying to ban every kind of rifle. These attacks were all single shot attacks from relatively close range. Any rifle, bolt-action or semi-auto, of any rifle caliber would have been sufficient for the snipers.

Maybe they do know what they are doing. As in gun owners being nibbled to death by anti-gun ducks. When the law banning “assault weapons” was passed, it named 19 models specifically, by manufacturer and model. It also named a number of cosmetic features that had nothing to do with the functionality of the weapon itself. I myself at one time owned a post-ban MAK-90 rifle, a semi-automatic version of a real assault rifle, the AK-47. The only difference between mine and the pre-ban weapon was the stock was changed. Instead of a separate piece for the handle, they reformed the stock so it became a thumbhole stock. Nothing else was changed and because of that one modification, it became perfectly legal to sell. Bad lawmaking at it’s finest.

The article also mentions a list of “assault pistols.” This term was totally invented by the anti-gunners. There can be no such weapon system. To assault means to attack. Pistols are used as close-quarter defensive weapons. Even cops carry their sidearms for defensive purposes only. The cops who go looking for a fight (SWAT) use at least MP5’s, which are baby rifles that fire handgun ammunition. If there ever was a conception of an “assault pistol” the MP5 would be the closest fit. And you don’t Mexican Carry an MP5.

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Absolute Power and all that

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This made me smile. Questionable Programs is a story about how Greenpeace is violating it’s non-profit status in order to carry out its left-wing agenda. You know, the “we know better” crowd. The kind of crowd that will do anything to push it’s agenda. Especially when it includes property damage against whomever they call “evil.” To them, there are no lines to cross, no “isn’t this going too far?” They have only their own morality to guide them. And of course, their cause is Just, their intentions Pure.

Well, now they’re in trouble. The IRS is after them. The IRS will be on them like a pack of dogs on a three-legged cat. About time we got some good use out of the IRS.

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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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