Rants

0 941

IranJust for one minute, I wish the average person living in America would listen to both sides of the story. Like, really listen.

The polarization in this country is at a comical level.

Just this past week, open enrollment for health insurance came and went with the usual groans about more and more being taken out of each paycheck to cover health insurance.

I find it comical that they still call health insurance a “benefit”.

Anyway, one co-worker outwardly denounced Obamacare left and right — apparently to blame, in their eyes, for our insurance premiums going up — and then proclaimed that they’d be better off moving to Canada.

Wow…

I mean, those two stances are complete opposites.

You can’t stand on both sides of that fence… except here in America where the average Joe (and Jane) often times have no idea what they’re talking about.

If Obamacare were actually what it’s supposed to be (and what Obama would actually like it to be), the healthcare system in this country would be just like it is in Canada.

Get it?

So, supporting Obamacare (the way it was originally proposed) would ELIMINATE your health insurance premiums.

Yeah, gone. ZERO. Like, a “real” benefit to paying taxes (which is how the Canadian government pays for it all).

It’s not Obama’s fault you’re paying more for health insurance — he tried to make it so that it would be FREE. For everyone.

How that fact is lost on so many is a real mystery. And how anyone could be so passionately against such an idea is also very puzzling.

A no-brainer, really.

And that brings me to the past few weeks and the whole Iran thing.

I don’t even want to get started down the path of how or why the United States thinks it has the right to decide which countries get to progress and which don’t.

Iran or not, it’s a very un-American way of doing business taking on the global role of judge, jury, and executioner.

Anyway… watching tv this week, it’s been nothing but a long line of conservative Republicans eating up air time as they growl on (still?!) about the Iran nuke deal.

But here’s the thing — it is a good deal.

No, it’s not a perfect deal but it’s a hell of a lot better than no deal at all — which is what Republicans on their soap boxes are trying to turn it into.

And that’s hilarious to me, someone who actually LISTENS, and here’s why…

Republicans or Democrats in this country often say things simply to keep power, whether it’s the specific office they hold or just towing the party line — a HUGE flaw in the two-party political system.

In other words, the conservative Republican office holders on tv are likely wise enough to know that the nuclear arms deal with Iran is a good one but will still vow to defeat it publicly.

Their brain numb constituents, the base, eat it up and vow to vote their reps in over and over again.

Whether or not the conservative Republican office holder thinks it’s a good deal is irrelevant in this case as it’s a no lose situation and that’s because President Obama has already said he’ll veto any attempt to defeat the deal.

Republicans in Congress don’t have the votes to override a Presidential veto so… the deal gets done not matter what, even if they make a big scene during the process.

Of course, being seasoned politicians, they already know that but they’re counting on the fact that YOU don’t know that.

So, even though they likely actually SUPPORT the deal, they’ll continue opposing anything Obama does simply for political reasons.

It’s stupid.

Sure, Obama wins because the world will be a mildly safer place for next decade and the Republicans get to rile up their base just before an election cycle opposing it.

But it also makes our country looking incredibly petty on the world stage… (the deal is NOT just between the US and Iran like it’s portrayed — that’s all propaganda.)

I mean, this deal is clearly better than no deal yet our government (the Republican led Congress, actually) is going to reject it simply for political theater.

Ridiculous.

I guess to the average Republican voter, narrowing the “Axis of Evil” down to just North Korea is a bad thing.

Does that mean the Democrats would promote adding to the “Axis of Evil”

Sadly, if a Democrat weren’t in the White House today, the answer would be “Yes!”

0 4168

StairwellEveryone knows about elevator etiquette.

Seemingly, anyway.

You know, where you let people off before you get on? That type of thing? Even my 4-year old knows…

Bafflingly, there are actually countless people who are apparently unaware that’s how it’s supposed to work.

Whatever, that’s fine by me as I’m a stair climber.

I take the stairs at work at least nine out of ten times — and only take the elevator when it would be socially awkward not to, like, when I enter or leave the building with someone I know.

The unwritten rule in a stairwell is kinda like the rules you should follow on a desolate sidewalk or even a grocery store aisle — you don’t pass people that are moving the same direction as you are and you NEVER ride their heels either.

(This rule, of course, doesn’t apply on busy city sidewalks that are both wide enough to not make it awkward and crowded enough so as the slower of the two parties doesn’t feel at all threatened or hurried.)

So, without fail, every time I’m cruising down the stairs at a pretty decent clip — skipping a stair with each stride — some bonehead on a lower floor enters the stairwell and procedes downward slower than those darn folks that stand stationary on those people movers at the airport…

Ugh?!

For real, people! Those people movers are so that your walking speed is increased dramatically…like almost a 100% increase in speed.

They’re not for standing on!? Argh?!

Anyway, in the stairwell, it drives me bonkers.

I mean, I know they heard my pace in advance as they opened the door so they’re totally aware that now I’m behind held up.

Are they going slow on purpose?

I can never be certain as etiquette requires that I stay back at least one landing but, c’mon, seriously…

If your standard stairway pace can’t beat an elevator down 10 stories or up at least 5 stories, well, take off your FitBit and stay out of the stairwell.

We don’t want you here.

0 954

Red vs. BlueHere in Connecticut, the mostly Democrat legislature recently passed a budget and sent it on to our governor, also a Democrat, to sign off on.

All hell broke loose.

The Republicans balked that the “new” taxes were too high and that it was terrible, devastating even, for businesses that operated within the state.

Big companies like General Electric and Aetna jumped on the bandwagon criticizing the additional taxes they’d have to “apparently” now have to pay.

General Electric even threatened relocating. Gasp!

Of course, some investigative reporter types soon pointed out that the “new” business taxes they’d been lamenting were taxes those companies were exempt from anyway as a result of getting special tax credits as incentive to do business in Connecticut.

Didn’t matter though — the Republicans had gotten their message on the airwaves first and they continued to dominate the headlines.

Connecticut taxes are going up and it will be crippling to everyone and all of the employers will leave the state.

Mass hysteria.

Truth of the matter is — unless you’re making over $500k per year, chances are, your taxes for 2014 will actually go down.

Yep, 99% of us will be paying less tax but we’re freaking out that we’ll be paying more…and losing our jobs in the process.

Love how that works. All mis-truths.

Political mis-truths.

So, with all of the uproar, the governor called a special session to amend the already voted on and approved budget.

The Democrats made some concessions with the Republican minority and put together a “new” budget. It all got done last night.

This morning’s headline — from the Republicans in state government…

“State is Destined for a Shortfall”

You can’t make this stuff up.

So…the Republicans originally claimed that the tax increases were out of line, got the public all riled up and forced the Democrat majority to make concessions, which they did, and now the Republican’s claim the budget — the one they essentially neutered and approved — will lead to a shortfall in the state’s coffers.

I despise that this is how the American government operates.

It’s ludicrous that the Republicans are trying to have it both ways and putting the Democrats at fault…in both scenarios.

They misled the public and business leaders at the onset in an attempt to smear the primarily Democrat budget.

Then, when they got exactly what they’d wanted on a do-over, they immediately proclaimed that the new budget was inadequate. Worse than before, even.

Since the current governor is a Democrat, he owns it even though the Republican minority is who essentially wrote the final version.

It’s not a lean left or lean right type of thing.

Both parties play the same game.

In this specific case, the Democrats pulled a 180 degree turn due to politically induced public pressure… Basically flip flopping from a ‘Yes’ all the way to a ‘No’.

The Republicans claim the the budget was 100% garbage before the flip and continues to be 100% garbage after the flop.

There is apparently no middle ground.

But that’s the thing, in reality, both version of the budget were a middle ground.

In something as complicated and widespread as a state budget, you’re going to win some battles and you’re going to lose some battles. Weigh your options and hammer out something that pseudo works for every one.

That’s exactly what happens in the government.

Then, they get in front of microphones and cameras and proclaim that, if they’re the not the party in power, that the legislation (proposed or otherwise) is 100% wrong.

The only thing that’s 100% wrong are their claims.

It’s no wonder this country is so divided.

We really need another party…or ten along side the Republicans and the Democrats.

You know, like the other countries on the planet that already have universal healthcare, free education, “working” gun laws, and politicians that know they need to work with others to get things done.

Sure, they have higher taxes than us (which is what it always seems to come back to in the USA) but guess what?

They have more services too.

Services that we’re currently paying for out of our pockets…and paying more for than we would if it were built into our taxes.

Sounds pretty great, right? Fewer things to pay for and more money in your pocket.

Yes, your taxes would go up… considerably.

But guess what? You’d still come out ahead.

Most of the world has already figured this out.

The US is too stubborn to even consider it.

Oh crap, I’m starting to sound like I’m supporting Bernie Sanders for President.

0 1190

SpellingToday, while writing an email, that little red line showed up under the word “advisor”.

I looked at it.

I looked at it some more.

Hmmmm, that looks right to me.

And then I started to doubt myself and subsequently forgot how to sepll htings ntirley.

So here’s what I found out:

Adviser and advisor are both accepted spellings of the noun meaning one who advises or counsels. There is no difference between them. But adviser, the older version, is listed as the primary spelling in most dictionaries, and it is about five times as common as advisor in current news publications from throughout the English-speaking world.

In the U.S. and Canada, advisor is commonly used in official job titles, but adviser is still generally preferred over advisor in North America, and advisor is only marginally more common in American and Canadian English than in other varieties of English.

Um, okay.

Maybe I’ve been living under a rock or perhaps it’s because I pretty much only see the word used as an “official job title” but I’m all but certain that I’ve never seen it spelled “adviser”.

Like, ever.

And they say it’s the more common spelling?

Please…

I’m going to go ask my walking 6-year old thesaurus.

0 971

Rubberband BallI’ve never supported the concept of working from home.

I mean, I hold a position where telecommuting is totally do-able — there really isn’t anything that I physically need to be in the building for; it can all be done pretty much anywhere I have a keyboard, monitor (or three), and an internet connection.

I also consider myself responsible and trust-worthy enough not to claim I’m “working” from home when, in reality, I’m doing my weekly grocery shopping.

But I don’t think it’s a wise alternative for companies to be offering — even for me.

First and foremost, face time matters.

In theory, yes, besides making an awesome rubber band ball, I could do pretty much everything required at my job from my PC at home while wearing pajamas.

But would it be efficient?

Absoulutely not.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve “solved” or “side-stepped” an issue of my own or others as a result of overhearing someone in the office.

If everyone’s at home, there is undoubtedly limited communication and zero teamwork.

While that might be great for the individual in their pajama pants ‘working’, cough, cough, grocery shopping, it’s bad for business.

And, no, just having a phone with you doesn’t count as “working” unless your job solely consists of talking on the phone.

Ever tried to modify even the simplest of Excel spreadsheets on your phone? Yeah, good luck with that.

I guess my real stance is that attendance matters.

From the fourth grade on, I never missed a single day of school. Not one.

(Let’s not talk about third grade… It included a two week stint in the hospital for appendicitis, a week off for the chicken pox, and probably 10 other days of just general illness too.)

Now, I may have implied that education isn’t important numerous times on this site and I’m not going to argue any differently here.

Anyone can get an education. It just takes a little time and effort.

So, yeah, education helps in “life” but you know what else counts more?

Just being there.

Consistently. Everyday.

Every office has that person that seems to habitually just not show up 3 or 4 times a month. Or that dude that comes in late, takes long lunches, or leaves super early EVERY SINGLE DAY. You know, that name that makes you roll your eyes?

Pretty frustrating when you need that person and they’re not there, you know, when they should be, right?

As it is, that happens a lot. Multiply the propensity by 100 if you’re talking about tele-commuters.

For real, drives me crazy when the “work from home” folks ask me if I saw the lady trip and fall on the Price is Right yesterday.

Um, no? I was at work. You know, working.

In fact, while I do enjoy the Price is Right, I haven’t seen an episode since 1996 when, well, I wasn’t working yet.

See what I mean?

So, when looking at my son’s report card this past week (he just finished kindergarten), his attendance for the whole year is listed.

0 days absent.
0 days tardy.
0 days dismissed early.

That’s right — 180 days of school and not a minute missed.

Report CardWhile I was never recognized in high school for never missing a day (they stopped acknowledging the feat years earlier as it had apparently turned into something so rare that the school administrators assumed(?) that it was no longer possible), I’ve always kinda wished I had been.

I know for a fact that I was the only one in my graduating class.

But, to my pleasant surprise, my son’s school principal (who reviews and signs all of the final report cards) acknowledged and even wrote a personal message recognizing his attendance record — calling it “amazing“.

Bit of a strong word if you ask me…

So, while I’m proud that my son is following my lead when it comes to “showing up”, I’ve also gained some comfort in knowing that things that seemingly go unnoticed aren’t *always* unrecognized.

Just “showing up” is a more valued asset than it’s given credit for.


– – – – – – – – – – –

Fried EggEgg on my Face

My streak continued in university too…and then in the workplace.

I’ve been at the same company for over 18 years and I’ve called out sick, very reluctantly, once. EVER.

And that was 15 years in…due to a vomiting spell that occurred precisely every 45 minutes.

Oddest and most predictable projectile vomit related illness I’ve ever had.

For real, I’d feel pretty much okay for around 40 minutes… and then puke my guts out for 5 minutes. Went on, like clockwork, for around 16 hours.

Embarrassingly, I hate to admit it now but…I “worked from home” that day.

0 1218

Cap and DiplomaRead an article in the paper today lamenting about how millennials are “coming of age in a harsh economy”.

I swear, they must publish the exact same article during graduation season each year… And have been for at least the last 30 years…

Seriously, I’m all but positive my local paper published the exact same article when I graduated from high school way back in 1994.

“Oh, these kids won’t have jobs waiting for them because the baby boomers aren’t stepping out of the workforce…”

This article, though, gave them a “name” of sorts — NEETs — that I hadn’t seen before.

It stands for Not in Education, Employment, or Training.

Losers. Get off your lazy ass and get a job.

But really, the economic “climate” — for jobs, anyway — is pretty much the same as it’s been since the early 1990’s as far as I’m concerned.

I know more PhD’s than you can imagine.

No, not cause they’re brainy but because they couldn’t find jobs…so they just stayed in school.

No joke, one guy I lived with in University had a commerce degree and an arts degree already…while we were pursuing engineering degrees at the same time.

Nowadays? He has like 5 masters, some sort of fancy MBA title thrown in there and he’s a doctor of something too.

To his credit, now in his 40’s, he continues to refer to himself jokingly as a professional student just as he did when I first met him.

Really, though, his resume consists of 90% education and 10% actual work experience. I mean, he almost has to break the “limit it to one page” resume rule just to list out his higher learning credentials.

I’ve said he should just become part of the system — like a professor or something — but he insists he’s still “looking” for a job.

I guess, since he’s still in education, he’s not a great example of a NEET.

Or maybe people have finally figured out that getting a degree doesn’t magically turn into a job?

Frankly, that’s a nearly 50-year old way of thinking.

My dad had a degree in philosphy and somehow turned that into a 30+ year IT career in the insurance industry. Really?

Yeah, that kinda thing worked 50 years ago… not so much now.

Of course, all of those commericals that you see on television for associate degrees, MBA’s, and online classes from the University of Phoenix would have you thinking differently…

Hey, I can take night classes on my own time and, poof, a few MONTHS down the road with my new certificate, I’ll be placed in a position of leadership — so high that I don’t even really have to ‘work’ because I’m so qualified — at a trendy company.

Um, no.

You’ll still be working where you are now, be a few thousand dollars more in debt, and be no nearer to being handed the job that never truly existed.

So, you rather than go the NEET route (where does that lead?), just start at the bottom somewhere and work hard.

Guess what?

Chances are, your higher education background (or lack of) won’t matter one bit.

0 1018

Yesterday we went to a community festival and besides the regular girl scout troops, church groups, local politicians, and sub-par musicians you’d see at any similar event, there was a new group of folks dotting the crowd wearing anti-Common Core t-shirts.

They weren’t passing out literature or anything, thankfully, but “someone” was clearly trying to set an opinion.

I chuckled to myself a bit as I think much of the message they were likely trying to convey was lost based on the folks they’d convinced to wear their t-shirts. It would’ve been a pretty safe bet to say that out of the whole lot of them, maybe one had more than a 4th grade education.

Or a job.

Or taken a shower in the past week.

Regardless of who they’d (poorly) chosen to deliver their message, I’m not really sure what the big fuss is about — besides the blind apprehension to change some folks have — though I’m confident that there are great arguments supporting both sides.

I’m pretty indifferent on this one. I think?

One idea I’m pretty aware of is how a lot of vocal parents out there think their kid is “special” or ahead of the curve and “common core” will only hold back their potential.

I’ll keep it short and just say, I disagree.

And I’ve also seen a lot of propaganda out there on social media from my right-leaning friends about how long division (among other things) isn’t taught correctly anymore because of common core with ludicrous examples of how 10 divided by two is now equal to 4 or some such nonsense.

I’m not certain if it’s part of the Republican and Tea Party agenda to crush the concept, based on my social media experience, it just seems that way. It’s all Obama’s fault, all the time, after all.

I guess I support the idea of a common core education under the impression that the point is to give all kids across all school systems the same education. Kinda sad that somehow gets turned into a political issue.

Go ahead friends, call me a socialist.

Things change and education should too. My oldest smurfling, now 5, is learning how to tie his shoes these days. I was never taught the “bunny around the loop” technique when I was a kid and that’s what he’s being taught. I accept that.

I know the “bunny” method was around back when I was a kid too. I’d heard about it but my parents weren’t “fluffy” when it came to teaching me how to tie my shoes (in the pre-velcro era, I might add).

Even still, based on how often my kids shoes come untied compared to how often mine do, sorry, I think my way is better.

But if the “bunny” method happened to be a common core standard, well, I’m okay with that.

I know my way *is* better but the end result is essentially the same — tied shoes. And I think that’s the point that a lot of people are missing.

Sure, there are a few things in there, such as the bunny, that are just plain silly but, in general, it’s a good idea.

Regarding something that’s a lot more likely to be in the curriculum, when I was in third grade, we listened to 45’s on a record player in math class that played songs where the lyrics were times tables.

I can still hear it in my head now — “Six times Six is Thirty-Six!”

It was nothing more than memorization. We weren’t taught the concept at all. I didn’t know why it was 36 — I just knew…because of a jingle.

As far as I’m concerned now, that was a total failure on the part of the school system.

Sure, I figured it all out the right way eventually, but I certainly wasn’t taught multiplication — I just memorized it.

Do I want my kids to be taught the same way I was? Absolutely not.

Change, in this case and from my perspective, is good.

Now I know it’s unrealistic to think that every school across the country can be on the same page — logistically impossible — but I do think it might be a good idea that they’re all within the same chapter at least.

I switched schools, states, and even countries during my elementary and secondary school years. My first — and most difficult — switch occurred between first and second grade when I moved from Illinois to Connecticut.

Culture shock for a seven year old all on its own, sure. I was light years ahead of my Connecticut peers when it came to reading and writing. For math, I was a little behind — yes, even in a school system where they used a record player to teach us. Ouch.

My real Achilles heel, though, was alphabetical order (which was detailed in this post from years ago).

While I could read and write at a level far beyond anyone in my class, the entire concept of alphabetical order was foreign to me. It apparently wasn’t a priority or even a part of the curriculum in Illinois and, frankly, it made me feel like an idiot for my first few months in the new school.

Not the greatest mindset to have when trying to make new friends.

I think common core’s goal is to prevent that sort of thing from ever happening and — beyond that — set a REAL standard for what an educated person is and should be.

Really, I’m pretty sure I could’ve got my GED by the time I was ten years old. Yet, somehow it’s practically viewed as the equivalent of a high school education.

I can’t say I learned a whole lot in high school but I certainly came out smarter than I was in the 5th grade when I was 10.

I also think that most of the opposition — right leaning or not — to a common education system is coming from people who have never known a different school system than the one they were a part of.

When I graduated from high school, I’d venture to say that over ninety percent of the kids in my class had been in the same school system since kindergarten and I think that’s generally the case across the country.

You don’t know what you don’t see or encounter.

I’d bet that every kid that ever moved from one town or state to another knows exactly what I mean.

And it has nothing to do with how great a school system is. I graduated near the top of my class from one of the best school systems in the country. I aced the math portion of the SAT. My reading/vocab portion was sufficient but certainly lower than what I would have assumed a top student in a top school would muster.

Even with the crappy, in my opinion reading/vocab score, the perfect math score propelled me into the 95th percentile and I was accepted at all but one of the universities I’d applied to.

And when I got to university?

Complete and utter failure.

My midterm mark in APSC-171 (which was integral calculus for engineering students) was 12%.

And that was with a 46 on the actual mid-term exam so it kinda (sadly) made it appear as if I was getting myself back in the game.

I went to class every day. Did all of the homework. I studied as much as the typical student. I was never much of a socialite and didn’t really enjoy the party scene but I was a failing student pretty much from day one. To my credit, I wasn’t alone.

But how could this happen?

Well, it’s because all school systems were NOT teaching the same thing. I was so unprepared when I got to university, it was almost comedic.

How could a guy with a perfect score on the math portion of the SAT only muster a 12% in a frosh level math class? Seriously.

Thinking back, it’s a shame that my high school wasn’t using record player jingles (or a cass-single) to teach me the formulas for derivatives and integrals. I’d have been prepared then as calculus really is nothing more than memorization.

Twenty plus years removed from it all now, I now know why the school system I graduated from was so heralded.

We were trained how to take standardized tests, plain and simple.

Our town routinely lead, and continues to lead, the State of Connecticut on them and places incredibly high across the entire nation.

To this day, on Zillow.com, I see that all of the schools I attended in Connecticut have a 10/10 rating. Where I live now, the schools are rated 6 and 7 on the same site.

As you may have guessed, from the last 10 one-sentence paragraphs, that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I came from an elite program only to learn I was truly far below average.

But really, I just hope that the common core concept helps level the playing field — not just from the university application aspect but for society as a whole.

It’s not dumbing down the smarter kids. The smart ones will learn, and excel, no matter what. Anyone with a brain knows that.

The concept is solid.

0 1221

Sharknado at WalmartSo, yesterday, we took a family trip to Walmart.

We don’t go there very often, partially cause of how busy it always seems to be but mostly because of the people that shop and work there.

I’m not one to judge but… Wait, yes, I am one to judge…

Really — you might think websites like “People of Walmart” are a gross exaggeration of reality for comedic sake but, I’ll tell you, there truly is no other demographic like the Walmart shopper.

Stereotypes exist because they are grounded in truth.

Walmart takes it to another level.

So, anyway, while I was digging through the $5 DVD bin with Duncan in search of Sharknado (don’t judge — where else would I find it?) an announcement comes over the loud speaker.

“Attention Walmart shoppers…”

Yes, it really started like that, but not all cool like it would have sounded at K-Mart. Imagine it in the voice of a barely literate 20-something male hillbilly lacking front teeth.

Yeah — somehow Walmart brings out the hillbillies of Connecticut. Really, there was a shopper in there wearing a cowboy hat. In CONNECTICUT!?

The message continued, in the cadence of a first grader reading out loud, “In two minutes, [insert sponsor here] will be giving away one razor sharp paring knife to everyone in the store over the age of 21. Supplies are limited. Please visit the red kiosk at the back of the store near the baby aisle. First come, first serve.”

Seriously?

First of all, a quick visual survey of the people surrounding me made it pretty unsettling that they we’re about to hand out “razor” sharp knives.

There might even be a stampede — the word “FREE” in Walmart is almost like “FIRE” in a movie theatre.

Further — they’re doing it in the baby aisle?

Are you kidding me?

I don’t know about your local Walmart, but in all of them around here, the “baby” section is in the back corner. The “kitchenware” aisle is usually part of that middle section where lots of just random household stuff is. In short — they’re not close to each other.

Why would *ever* you hand out knives to the gutter of society in an aisle full of diapers?

You can’t make this stuff up.

Making things even funnier, err scarier, while we were checking out, there was an announcement asking employees to do a “safety sweep” of their departments…

Hmmmm… must’ve been a report of someone wielding a “razor” sharp knife or something.

Back to Target we go…

Can You Dig It?

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