Tuesday, December 30, 2008

see what I'm talking about?

I posted a week or two ago about the latest Atlanta mishap regarding no-knock warrants. In that post, I referenced a story about intruders posing as police to "disarm" residents that I couldn't find. I should have known that all I would need to do is wait another week or two for a similar story.

Link to story here.

We need to end this no-knock warrant nonsense. How hard is it to secure a property when no one is home and arrest a person while they're doing something inconvenient like using a gas pump or a public restroom? If you've been staking a place out well enough, you should be able to figure out the perp's schedule.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


It's just before 10 AM. You're sitting in your home office, relaxing in your PJs, having a cup of coffee. Your significant other and your 3-month old baby are quietly sleeping down the hall. You just thought to yourself how nice it is to be able to work from home on occasion because it's difficult to tear yourself away on some days then it's back into responding to that important e-mail.

BOOM! What the hell? It sounds like someone just busted in the front door. Holy crap, someone is coming into the house. The sound woke the baby, she's crying. People are swarming my house armed to the teeth with semi-automatic rifles. They're pointing them at you telling you "arms in the air!", "face down on the ground!" You ask, "What is this all about?" All you're told is to "shut up." You really have no idea why the SWAT team is in your house and all you're hoping is that one of these thugs doesn't have an itchy trigger finger.

Sound scary? It could happen to you. It did happen to someone. Just yesterday in Gwinnett County, Georgia.

The cops intended to serve a warrant on a house they'd been staking out for three months. The only problem is that after three months they couldn't remember exactly which house it was. No need to check an address or anything, "I'm pretty sure it was that one."

It wasn't until they discovered the baby that they realized that they were in the wrong house. The door had already been busted in, the frame in splinters. They'd already waved guns in your faces. The damage, both physical and psychological, is done. All they say is "We're sorry. And we'll fix that door for you."

This isn't the first time that police have screwed up royally while serving a no-knock warrant in the metro-Atlanta area. Almost exactly two years ago, in November of 2006, a SWAT team went to the house of little, old lady Kathryn Johnston and did pretty much the same thing late one evening. The difference was that this lady packed an old, rusty revolver because she didn't think the neighborhood was too safe. She fired, not knowing that it was police. They, of course, returned fire effectively ruining Thanksgiving for her family and pretty much any other perfectly law-abiding citizen that values the sanctity of their own home.

It seems that the criminal are catching on to this trend as well. I can't seem to find the article quickly here, but recently it was reported that some home invaders busted in a door somewhere and started yelling that they were the police and instructed the owners to freeze with their hands up!

The element of surprise is effective. The common argument for the preservation of the no-knock warrant is that evidence is not destroyed and the criminal is caught red-handed. However, the element of surprise can also be fatal. Fatal for occupants, such as Kathryn Johnston. And sometimes fatal for the police officers. Since the rules of a no-knock warrant do not require police to announce that they are indeed the police there has been more than one instance where officers were injured or killed. And again, even if they did announce, could you really trust them? They are busting into your house for no particular reason. Who is to say that it's not some burglars pretending to be police? Or maybe it's the police who are there to burglarize.

Who wants to go to prison? That's apparently what you can expect if you were so bold as to defend yourself, your family, and your home. Several officers have been injured or killed while serving a mistaken no-knock warrant. In Kathryn Johnston's case, she paid with her life. In Cory Maye's case, he will pay with his life as well. He just gets to remain alive and in prison for life. That's somehow better than the original death penalty he received.

There has to be a better way.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

take out those papers and the trash

The Coasters had a kitschy hit in 1958 and if you grew up watching television in the late 80's, the heyday of Time-Life Music collections, then chances are that you heard the chorus of this song at least once. "Yakety yak! Don't talk back."

The whole basis of Yakety Yak is to list the chores for a particularly sassy teenager along with the consequences for not doing them. An excerpt lyric:
If you don't sweep that kitchen floor
You ain't gonna rock 'n' roll no more
The song also includes a fun saxophone track played by King Curtis. The chorus line is probably the most well known part of the song with the group singing the teenager's response to the list, "Yakety Yak!" followed by a bass singing "Don't talk back." And if you click that Yakety Yak link above, you can actually listen to the song (followed by some weird electronica stuff) and read the lyrics.

To apparently completely switch gears on you here, I'd like to talk about recycling. Recycling is something that I do with fervor. Our recycling bin fills up about every two weeks and is put out for pick up. It fills with bottles and cans, catalogs, food and shipping boxes, pretty much anything on their pick-up list. The best item that the Cobb County attached to their bid list for private waste companies was the requirement that they offer recycling pick-up. And the bonus for me is that the company doesn't require that I separate into different bins. Everything in one bin, it gets sorted at a facility. It's common for me to carry around an empty bottle after I'm done with it to put in the recycle bin at home rather than letting it end up in a landfill. Just last week, I grabbed my empty bottle that the flight attendant attempted to pick up from my tray table. I thought at the time that I might be a little over-zealous with my efforts.

I know what you're thinking. "So this is all about you? Well why don't we just give you an environmentalist of the year award?" No, I was just offering my personal experience as an example of people voluntarily recycling.

I think that a big part of the reason that I recycle has to do with my chemistry background and the fact that I like cheaper goods. Not cheap to the point where I shop exclusively at Wal-Mart or anything, but cheaper across the board. And with respect to the chemical aspect, it has something to do with understanding where the materials came from in the first place.

Paper is easy. The Chinese figured out how to take plant fibers, create a pulp from them, lay them down and dry the pulp sometime around the 2nd century AD. Papyrus existed before that, but manufacture was so difficult that it was not a practical endeavor. To oversimplify, grind up a tree, mix it up with a lot of water, lay the fibers down, and then dry the hell out of it. As my college professor stated, "Papermaking is a whole hell of a lot of water in, a whole hell of a lot of water out."

Recycling paper is a little different. They grind up wet paper product with a few extra steps to clean and remove dyes, but the problem is that it is difficult to get pristine white pulp ever again. There are methods to compensate for this color quality, but the actual physical quality of the fibers is even compromised in most recycling processes which is why a lot of products are blends of recycled and new fiber pulp. That's what "contains 30% recycled material" means when you read similar statements. But the point is, do I really need really attractive fibers for cereal boxes or corrugated cardboard, or even napkins at Wendy's? Probably not, and you may now understand why a lot of fast-food restaurants have brown napkins. They're cheaper to produce than white from raw pulp even, but chances are a good portion of them is low-modification recycled pulp. Heck, even Starbucks uses a small percentage of recycled paper (10% last I heard) for their cups. This was a big deal because it is a food service container and it was considered a big no-no to put food products in recycled containers.

Recycling paper does not mean that fewer trees are being cut down, necessarily. It does help to keep the price of some paper products down which fuels demand. The demand for lumber still exists. But it does help to keep the rate at which we cut down trees for paper purposes fairly static or lower than they otherwise would be. Not that I think cutting down trees is bad because most logging companies replant areas so they can come back in a handful of years to harvest again.

Metal cans are another easy product to recycle. This one is even easier. Melt the crap out of it, use separation process to divide dissimilar metals or to remove impurities and send it off to be made into other metal products. Sorry, but you're not going to degrade an atom in the process and the melting temperature of metals should be more than sufficient for sanitization. That's one less can we'll need to dig up from ore but more importantly it comes down to thermodynamics. Take aluminum as an example. You won't go out and find chunks of aluminum in rocks waiting to be mined and turned into cans. Instead, aluminum requires a significant input of electrical and chemical energy to be converted from aluminum compounds in ores to the simpler aluminum metal. And that's only after the ore is made soluble by other less than desirable processes. You can read more about this here, but there is a reason that aluminum was once more valuable than gold and silver.

So with metal it comes down to energy. Anyone who understands the principles of the Law of Conservation of Energy would probably agree that melting and recasting is significantly more efficient than just the extraction from ore process before it goes to be casted.

And then there's plastic. I don't think that most people understand that plastics are largely derived from petroleum products. After oil is refined, you have a lot of smaller molecules that can be thought of as individual chain links. Take those links through a few processes and you can make them link together to make a chain. That's a simplified overview of plastics, or polymers. Some plastics are not really capable of being recycled. It has to do somewhat with how the chain-links connect, like whether they make a chain-mail or whether they make spaghetti noodles, but that too is oversimplifying the process. But spaghetti noodles stand a better chance of being recyclable.

The process for recycling of plastics is similar to that of metals, but in this case, the plastics are generally presorted. Ever notice the little recycle triangle with a number in the middle, printed on pretty much every plastic product? They look like this. Those are resin codes and they tell you primarily about what type of molecular chain-links your plastic is made from. This makes it easier to keep similar plastics with one another which makes the recycling process that much easier. I've seen examples of clear plastic drink bottles made from new and recycled plastic side-by-side and was unable to discern a difference. But, it's again easier to make colored plastic from recycled materials for much the same reasons as paper. Take a bland recycled color, add a few pigments and binders, and you have a fancy colored plastic container, like this one. And once again, there are significant energy conservation benefits from recycling plastic.

This really wasn't supposed to be a treatise on why you should recycle. But you should recycle, if you aren't already. And that still isn't the point of me starting this article.

It seems that the citizens of Gwinnett County, here in metropolitan Atlanta, can now look forward to $500 fines for failure to recycle. You can read more details about that from the local paper. "Take out those papers and the trash, or you don't get no spending cash!"

I don't have a problem with asking people to recycle. I have a problem with forcing people to recycle. Especially when that force is complete with unreasonable fines and relies on the threat of government's ability to reduce personal liberty for enforcement.

So how do we go about convincing people to recycle?

Do we tax the bejeezus out of recyclable materials? I don't think that anyone could successfully argue for more taxes, especially in current economic times and when many goods suppliers rely on one or more of these materials to deliver consumer goods. And taxes are just a horrible way to modify behavior.

Do we require deposits on recyclable goods? Well, that seems more reasonable than taxes. But resources already exist for recycling in bulk and we shouldn't go about reinventing the wheel. And let's not mention the difficulty in automating the refund process when all containers are not identical. And with the lack of automation options, you have to pay someone to do the job. And where does that money come from? I think that path leads back to taxes. Again, not an option.

Do we offer education? I think this is the more viable option. I'd rather spend tax dollars making brochures, TV ads, billboards, etc. than paying some code enforcement officer to write citations all day long. And seriously, how do you inspect garbage for about 1 million citizens? It doesn't even seem realistic or plausible. And we're missing a huge opportunity to make chemistry education in our public schools relevant to everyday life. And this is also the reason for the long diatribe above. By spreading a little info, perhaps at least one person will be motivated to start recycling. And I'm not sorry if it bored the rest of you.

But perhaps, more than anything else, I don't like being forced to do something. As a matter of fact, in a lot of cases I'm defiant to the core and will try to figure out a way to not do something that has been mandated. Just look at all of the people in the business of helping people reduce their taxes. And that's certainly not the attitude that we want people to have with regards to the simple task of recycling.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

dumb move

Among other news that affects our lives very little, Auburn fired their coach.

Because of one rough season? Really? So they lost in a rout to the #1 ranked cross-state rival Alabama. A lot of others have as well (see also UGA vs. Alabama, Clemson vs. Alabama, God vs. Alabama, etc.). One loss in seven years is grounds for a firing? Give me a break. And good luck finding someone that feels like that's a secure job opening up there. A one season at a time contract? I know competition might exist for coaching, but come on.

Is it too late for Climpsun to renege on their deal with Debo, Dabo, Devo, whats-his-face? I think they'd benefit from a more experienced coach. Tuberville wouldn't even really have to change colors or mascots.

If all else fails, I hear Mississippi State and Tennessee had recent openings.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

good old fashioned hate

It's that time of year again. We are drawing nearer the end of another college football season as Thanksgiving rings the dinner bell and sets off many of the sports rivalries across the nation. And here I am with my attempt to extend the rivalry between my alma mater's Yellow Jackets and the cross-state University of Georgia Bulldogs.

UGA fans will try to tell you that the Georgia Tech "Bees" are not their biggest rivalry. They try to give that designation to the Florida Gators most times. Then, when it's convenient, they'll point to Alabama and Auburn or even Tennessee when they're good. Sometimes it's even as far away as LSU. But it's all a charade. When they get beaten by those teams on the field it's always because the other team was better than their beloved Dawgs (sic) and because the SEC is just so derned tough. But grown men cry when the Dogs lose to the Nerds. Which I have to admit has not happened in some time.

So that brings us to 2008. Both teams have impressive records so far this season. UGA is 9-2 with losses to Alabama and Florida, admittedly fierce opponents. Tech is 8-3 with losses to somewhat respectable ACC opponents VT, UVA, and UNC. I use the term somewhat loosely because it's tough to tell the good teams in a conference that has routinely beat up on one another. But all of that aside, Tech is still a contender for a spot in the ACC championship game and will at least have the same conference record as the VT Hokies if they happen to beat Virginia this weekend. They win the tie-breaker with their 3-point margin of victory over us in that scenario. The Dogs on the other hand? They're done for the regular season after this week but look to score an impressive non-BCS bowl berth if things go their way. Seems that the two teams they lost two are going to battle it out for the SEC championship.

All of that aside, I feel like it's time for some good ribbing of the Dogs. So here are some of my feeble attempts at making fun of the traditionally low academic standards at UGA, criminal tendencies of their athletes, interesting study paths (such as poultry science and turf management), and other easily manipulated for gain attributes of the Cesspool of the South, aka UGA.

First, let's look at one of the easily modifiable jokes of all time.
Q: What does a UGA grad call a Tech alumnus?

A: Boss.
It wouldn't be funny really because it's somewhat lame and you really could put any two dichotomous entities in that joke to make it universal. But it is ridiculously funny when you consider that a Tech graduate was just named CEO of Wal-Mart. It really is true this year!

Then there is another old standard about their academic aptitudes.
Did you hear that there was a fire at the UGA library? Pretty much every book was burned which is tragic considering that a lot of them hadn't even been colored in yet!
Har har. I know, that's not entirely fair. They do have some great programs at UGA. Such as their excellent law school. They're just not offered in undergraduate studies. (zing!) Okay, fine. It's great if you're going to study agriculture, animal husbandry or if you want to run for public office in Georgia or want to work for the AJC.

Here's another old standard.
Q: What do a UGA fan and a Tech fan have in common?

A: They both never went to UGA!

And yet another.
Q: Why can't they offer Driver's Ed and Sex Ed during the same semester at UGA?

A: They wouldn't want to wear out the mule!
And again.
Q: What do you call a UGA football player in a 3-piece suit?

A: The Defendant

Oh, I could go all day long but if you're wanting more, the AJC is actually making itself useful for once and are using their rant-page technology to allow people to publish tons more in this general vicinity. If you go there, you'll notice that a lot of these jokes are fairly unoriginal on my part.

And just so that my blog is never targeted by the Fairness Doctrine enforcement agency, we'll put one UGA joke up that is rightly deserved.
Bubba: Oh, Cledus. You know my old dog we got a while back? He's a true Jorja Bulldawgs fan. When the Dawgs beat them ol' Nerds he goes wild, justa' barking and howling like mad! It's a true sight to watch that old dog celebrate.

Cledus: Well what does he do when they lose to Teck?

Bubba: Don't rightly know. I've only had him for 7 years.
Hopefully, we'll find out what that dog does do when they lose this Saturday.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

it's like entertainment tonight, but for politics

From the looks as of late, it seems like cnn.com should get a second domain name. How about ObamaCentral.com?

Or EverythingObamaAllTheTime.com

Or WhatIsTheUSPresidentElectUpToRightNow.com

Or ObamaJustTookAPoop.com

Yes, I could really do this all day long. But I won't.


Ok, had to get one more in. I'm really done now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

me too!

When I was growing up, my mother got one point across to me early on in my childhood. Actions have consequences. My actions then were sometimes likely to end with me having a stinging, red behind. Now it seems like the actions of others are leaving me with a stinging, red behind.

I had a huge problem with our Federal government deciding how it's citizens should pick and choose winners and losers in the economy. Keep in mind that we didn't really have a say. All we needed was a President and his cronies (Paulson et al) to declare a crisis and demand "bi-partisan" action teaching me that I need to make sure that I have powerful friends when whatever business I'm in starts to hiccup because of poor business decision making.

The main misconception that most people have regarding the bailout is that it was caused by a lack of regulation. Untrue. It was actually caused by regulation. How? Regulations simply tell people what they cannot do. Then a bunch of lawyers and accountants get together and figure out what they can do that doesn't break those rules. They can get pretty creative as we've seen. So the answer is to ask them to be even more devious? No. The answer is to let them fail. That is the ultimate consequence of bad business practices. Yes, people will lose their jobs, an unfortunate side-effect. I doubt they'd stay unemployed for long if we stop overreacting. But it makes good copy on slow news days so I guess it's what we're stuck with.

And as even more reason to detest the bailout is that everyone is stepping up to the trough now. I mean everyone. Even Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin. Never mind that she just asked for a quarter-million dollar paycheck. I'll ask for more money for myself while I also ask for all of my workers to take less by working fewer hours. "But it's all in the best interests of our city!" Yeah.

In better news, it looks like you can apply for your portion of the government bailout. Check this link. Happy paperwork filling-out!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008



The election season, which is about two years long now, is finally coming to a close. Except here in Georgia where we have a Senate runoff because of a tenth of a percent of voters. So here we look forward to having four more weeks of the nastiest campaign ads that we'll ever see, at least for about four more years. Maybe two depending on how hot and contested the mid-term elections get. Or more realistically about three months afterwards with the current running average on campaign lengths.

I have to admit that it's my fault that Barack Obama won. If I had stayed up and watched the results, I am sure that it would have turned out differently. Too bad I find the whole process superficial and what's the word...? Boring? I mean, come on. Does a guy really need to spend $6 billion dollars to get elected to a job that rakes in about $400k annually? At that rate, he can look forward to a return on investment in about 15,000 years. Good luck on extending that term limit there, buddy. Hope it was worth it. For that kind of scratch, I'd have just bought my own third-world country and been king until I die. Your wimpy President job is no match for being a ruthless ruler. Your job has expectations of greatness. Mine would demand that people call me "Greatness." People would bow down to you because they think you're a saint or something. Mine would bow to me because otherwise I would kill their goats, hose down their mud houses, and ride off on their women. Sucker.

It's funny that a good portion of the US voting population has confidence in an Obama presidency. It's ironic that the people that matter don't. You know, the ones with the money that drives the economy? People who read real history books (not crummy high school textbook versions) have seen a lot of this policy of "change" stuff before. Let's talk again in four years after this guy has proven himself to be a bigger and badderest version of Jimmy Carter.

PS - Calling Barack Obama "this guy" in that last sentence is probably a racist statement.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

most historical in history

Is 'historical' even a word? It is in the dictionary but it still sounds wrong. "Historic" makes sense to me. Adding the '-al' at the end just sounds made up. It's not. Like I said before, it is in the dictionary. Doesn't mean I have to like it.

Anyhow... is this really the most "historic election" in history of all known history for historians? I disagree. Different? Milestony? (I can make up words, too!) Sure. But the most historical in history? Probably not. To be honest, the most historational election in my opinion occurred when good ol' GW (that's George Washington for those of you who know president's initials, not George Wallace who was never President or even Gail Weathers who was only president of the elementary school PTA) stepped down and admitted that the job sucks, it was more fun to go home to a farm overlooking a beautiful river, and it was someone else's turn to suffer in the position. John Adams, you sucker.

I guess there are some points worthy of making this election historical for historians of history. It is the first election where Starbucks is offering free, illegal coffee just for voting.

And as a shout-out to all the morons who waited in hours-long lines to vote early, it only took us 40 minutes from getting in line at the polls to getting in line at the local Starbucks to pay for a non-free coffee. And the voting line was significantly shorter (about half as long) when we left the polls.

Friday, October 03, 2008

just got back from the gangbang

Anyone else feeling like they just got screwed by 263 people?

Interesting to note that the Dow actually dropped when the bailout was passed.

Oh well, vote against 'em if you can.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

mrs. awesometastic

My wife is brilliant. And in accordance she had a brilliant insight that she shared with me this evening regarding the bank bailout bill. It was so cleverly simple that I'm frankly surprised that I haven't come across the concept yet. Don't get me wrong. Someone has probably had the idea already. I just haven't seen it. And judging by my readership (I make the AJC look good), I'm not likely to be pointed in the right direction.

Her concept is simple. And in her usual fashion, you get to use your imagination. And I'll probably expand on her ideas just to make it an interesting enough read. It was elegant for a short conversation analogy but I like to write and you just have to deal with that.

Imagine that you are a pioneer in the wild west, headed out to develop unchartered territory in America's frontier. Maybe you set up the beginning of Helena, Montana or some similar city. She can't hide her preferences for her home state. Can't necessarily blame her if you've ever been there.

Anyhow, here you are with a bunch of other good people (about 100 of you), wanting to organize and essentially create order. To do that, you have the uncomfortable job of allowing one or more of your citizens to enforce the orderly conduct. You're creating a government. But these are good Americans and they have learned from the successes of their kindred nationals and go about the process in a well natured, democratic process. They vote. And you end up getting elected mayor and another guy becomes sheriff. If that's sexist of me, you can substitute a minority, trans-gendered, bisexual midget for one or more of those characters. Yes, even you can be a minority, trans-gendered, bisexual midget in your imagination. And in real life if you're flush with cash and have a good plastic surgeon. Anyhow...

Things go well for a while. The town has a booming copper business. Farmers are growing crops and livestock. Bartenders are tending bar. Undertakers are undertaking. Butchers are butching.

And the bank is banking. And the bank starts doing poorly. They're in real trouble. We won't get into why, it's redundant to the point. (But, perhaps a lot people aren't fond of the fact that the banker has only been loaning to the people that own businesses or farms. They want loans to maybe buy houses, start their own farm, whatever. So they get the mayor to strong arm the banker into loaning to these people. And he does so reluctantly. yada yada yada) Anyhow, like I said, doesn't matter, the bank is just in the toilet.

So, you the mayor, being the good steward of the citizen's power, meet with the banker and he could get right back on top if he just had a little cash. So, you and some friends come up with a plan that if everyone in town just chips in $20 a piece, the bank would be A-okay.

Would you ask them for it?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."  -Bertrand Russell

Yesterday sent the best news we've had in months.  It's good to see that sometimes the system works, at least when people respond in substantial quantity to make elected officials fear either: a) losing their job, or b) showing their face in town back home.  What better way to head into the fourth quarter than to learn that our Representatives have rejected the federalization of our nation's banking system?

Oh sure, the market dipped.  For a day.  And I'm sure that the market corrections aren't complete yet.  But the best news came today when the market regained ground on new investments in the market.  Could it be possible that people were just holding out while the prices might have been artificially inflated, waiting for a deal? I think it's highly possible.  Seriously, think about it.  Banks like Wachovia were waiting to sell their assets at a loss.  Why wait?  

Let's make up some numbers for illustration.  Let's say that Good Bank is interested in buying Bad Bank's poor assets for 25 cents on the dollar.  That's a huge loss for Bad Bank.  Why would they sell for 25 cents on the dollar when the government might give them 50 or even 75 cents on the dollar? Heck, all they have to do is wait it out.  What do they have to lose?  The value has already tanked.  You probably know as well as I do that the government has a track record of paying too much for things of little value.  The only seeming exception is in cases of abuse of eminent domain where the complete opposite is true.

People haven't been investing on purpose. It's been too unpredictable and everyone loves a deal.  Guess what we have now.  A little more certainty that this crap bailout probably won't happen soon and bargain basement prices.  Holy crap, the free market at work!

Sure, there's the short term credit crisis.  But the problem was created exactly by short term thinking.  Let's get in, boost the balance sheets with little to no regard for what they'll look like in 5-6 years, make our money, and move along before the chickens head home.  What's going to happen eventually?  Someone will realize that there is money to be made in lending and they'll do just that. Perhaps a little more judiciously than in recent history.

We don't need more government intervention, we need less.  This garbage housing bubble was created exactly by government intervention in free markets.  Hit Google up for some info on the Community Reinvestment Act, a deceptively named proposal like most bills in Congress (Wikipedia's take is in question these days due to multiple edits per hour lately).  Notice that it wasn't created or expanded in the last eight years as most talking heads would have you think this problem was created.  The system worked well before that legislation, less well after, and even worse after expansion. So why are we looking to Washington to fix their screw-up with another screw-up?  And exactly where in the Constitution does it authorize them to do so anyhow?

UPDATE:  Here's a fun video to back up some of my statements.

I had found a page yesterday showing campaign contributions from Fannie and Freddie. It'd be interesting to see how these guys voted on saving the GSE's and how they do on the current bailout.

Friday, September 26, 2008


I'm not a big conspiracy theorist, but this mess is getting absolutely ridiculous. I've taken statistics and did pretty well in it. So, what are the odds of the entire bag of feces hitting the oscillator right near the end of an election cycle? Sorry, but I think that it was precipitated by the not-so-invisible hand. You know, the one that lives in D.C.?

It seems like this all started when we heard news of the recent "re-federalization" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which somehow simultaneously were and were not federal institutions.  Fannie and Freddie have been at risk for some time now. I'm sure that someone can trace it all of the way back to when they were created, but to be more "current" let's just take some advice from former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.
Greenspan has, over the last few months, repeatedly called for portfolio restrictions. He seems particularly troubled by what he views is a public perception that Freddie and Fannie are government insured entities. This, he has stated, not only promotes risk-taking on the part of some investors, but also gives the corporations a competitive advantage when it comes to mortgage rates. The two were created by Congress as vehicles to pump money into the housing market but are both publicly traded stock companies.
This was published in 2005, by the way. I really like the line about "the perception that Freddie and Fannie are government insured entities." Perception becomes reality, anyone? I'm sure it was not the first time that he was concerned.  Too bad he wasn't too concerned with the Fed facilitating artificially low interest rates with Fed policy.

Somehow, perhaps magically, this concern became real for the Washington politicos in the fall of 2008. From my understanding it was due to depreciation in the housing market.  But this concept is strange to me because the housing market has been in decline for some time now.  From Bernanke in November of 2006:
The deceleration in economic activity currently under way appears to be taking place roughly along the lines envisioned in the Federal Reserve's July report. As anticipated, the slowdown primarily reflects a cooling of the housing market. Most other sectors of the economy appear still to be expanding at a solid rate, and the labor market has tightened further.
Perhaps it just took this long to finally make a dent on the multi-trillion dollar balance sheet of Fannie and Freddie. Sorry, but it doesn't seem like too much of a "surprise" from the abundant data that existed before 2008. Then, with the "fall" of these behemoths, the ones that were dependent on the teats that had run dry started having problems as well. Big frickin' surprise. Color me shocked.

And is anyone else thinking that foreclosures have spiked in the last month because people running for office are constantly promising (and I don't know how) to keep people in their homes?  Heck, guess that means this big ass mortgage payment can go to hell! Granny Government gonna clean up this mess for me!

Why were the warning signs ignored for so long?  Why did "just recently" become the time for action? But I suppose my main question that will likely go unanswered, and history will not be provided the opportunity to tell, is "Is all of this reaction actually necessary?"  Sorry, but the Action Boat done left shore.   I guess the illusion of leadership is a lot easier to maintain than actual leadership. And it's a lot more profitable in the short run.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

well duh!

Sorry for all of you ladies who were moist for some Clay Aiken. It turns out that contrary to popular belief he prefers to play swords.

I'm shocked. If you could see my face right now, you'd know what my shocked face looks like. Nah, that's just my you're a doofus if you thought Clay Aiken was straight face.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ah, democracy!

It's very difficult to turn on a television these days and not have the opportunity to participate first-hand in a democratic process.  Seemingly, the trend in the US seems to have stemmed from one of the first hit reality television shows, Survivor.  The participants voted which other participant would be selected to leave the island, effectively terminating their participation in the event.  This process was repeated each week in order to narrow the selection down to a single winner.  The democratic process was used in somewhat reverse order, but represented the general process nonetheless.  But it wasn't enough...

Then came American Idol!  The fundamental advancement in democracy here was expanding the vote.  The vote was not solely up to the participants (can't imagine that they were banned from voting for themselves) but it was expanded into your living room.  All you had to do was call a special number or send a text message to vote for your favorite act. Now I think you can even use the Internet! This is the essence of a true democracy!  The only difference from our voting system is that each person could vote more than once. Or perhaps that is not different...

It's good to see that our political system in the great United States of America is keeping up with the times.  Here we are now, at the end of a lengthy process where candidates have been trotted on-screen, allowed the opportunity to perform, and then the people were driven out to vote for them.  Unfortunately, they aren't too modern and we actually had to go to a special location to vote.  Each major political party had their own tribe and we elected a "Grand Poobah," so to speak.  The most exciting part of this whole process was that they each had a live, semi-season finale where they each announced their winner! These semi-finales were essentially large fiestas that were televised and took place over several days.  Several days exceeds the attention span of the average American viewer, so I have taken the liberty of editing them down to something that the average US citizen can handle.

Since it was first chronologically, I figured we'd start with the Democrat National Convention that occurred in Denver.  This video focuses primarily on the party platform and the proposed solutions that were developed at the convention.  Pay attention! This is important and riveting stuff!

The following week, the Republicans had their own convention in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis & St. Paul. Who doesn't love twins?  This was effectively the message that we take home from their televised events.

The best part is that it's not even over!  Like any good television series, they just keep us glued to the tube wanting more!  Now, we get to witness the really fun part!  All day, every day, until November 4th, we get to see more and more performances by the respective elected Grand Poobahs from each tribe until it's time for us to vote yet again!  You have to keep us riveted and I'm sure that they will! In the meantime, since we're between seasons for the good shows anyhow, enjoy the ride!

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Thanks, retards. Mostly, thank you Governor. Thanks to you, the price of gas couldn't rise to the point where people consumed less and now we have artificial shortages. Thank goodness I filled up regularly on Wednesday.

At $5/gal, some folks might decide they only need a half a tank until maybe the end of next week when gas prices might naturally go down.  Instead, it's all "Hey, it's still less than $4/gal, let's fill up now while the stations are afraid of being accused of "gouging." You'd hope that anyone deciding anything about market prices has actually taken a course in economics.  But that class is only a half-credit requirement for graduation in Georgia.  Keep those kids just smart enough to pay bills, but not quite smart enough to know better when politicians make bad decisions.

Thanks again, lame duck.

Friday, September 12, 2008

weapons of mash destruction

Most people that know me know fairly well that I like to brew my own beer. As of this week, I've also made my first batch of root beer. Yay me, right? Most people that know home-brewers also know that they like to make other stuff, too. For example, I also like to make desserts and bake homemade bread. But the obsession with creating stuff for most brewers doesn't stop in the kitchen. It also lends itself well to other projects that involve lots of milling around in The Home Depot looking for parts that can suit some new equipment project. And sometimes it also involves a little bit of woodwork like my project today.

A lot of home-brewers start off by brewing with malt extracts. *nerd alert!* This is where barley, or other grains, has had its starches converted into sugars (the stuff yeast likes to turn into alcohol) and the resulting liquid then has its water evaporated off leaving behind a solid "sugar" that is further processed into powder. Keep in mind that other non-volatile compounds remain as well. You take this extract, dissolve it in water, add some other ingredients like hops, boil it for a while, and then cool it for the yeast to have a fun time. And voila, a few weeks later, you've got beer!

But the more you get into brewing, the less and less that this approach with extracts seems to satisfy. You read about how starting with the grains themselves and doing the starch to sugar conversion yourself is way more satisfying and some say it produces better beers. Something to do with preservation of nutrients for the yeast, yada yada yada, blah blah. So, a few trips to The Home Depot and a couple hundred bucks later, you've got yourself a "real" brewery! Now the fun begins.

Well, if you're like me, you start off relatively inexpensively. One of the best attributes of a home brewer is to be able to do more with less. It takes some improv skills, but not the acting-type. More of the engineering-type improvisation skill. But acting is okay, too, as long as you're brewing with a few friends. Anyhow, back to the point about being on the cheap... A fairly cheap way to make a vessel for converting the starches into sugars, called a mash tun, is to use a 5-gallon cooler, of the variety that you see on construction trucks that are commonly orange like mine. Change out the button-style spigot with a ball-valve (handled) spigot and like magic, you've got a nice insulated mash tun. Did I mention that mashing occurs at about 150 degrees Fahrenheit and that holding that temperature is important for good conversion? Well I have now.

Well, the only real problem that I've had with mashing has been stirring the mash, which is not easy to do with about 12 pounds of grain and only three gallons of water. The mixture is a lot like a fairly firm mud. It takes some effort to get down to the bottom of the mix. And stirring is essential to get water into the nooks and crannies of the grains to convert more starches plus to even out the temperature of your mash to avoid hot and cold spots. Those natural enzymes only work in a fairly limited temperature range. I had been using a long plastic spoon, but it started bending way too much due to the heat. Plus it was kind of skinny and was difficult to get down to the bottom of the mash tun. Then I was using a kitchen spoon that had a metal handle with a plastic spoon end with some luck, but it just wasn't long enough. I did mention that this stuff is at 150 F! Ow, fingers!

So, I was looking for a solution. They had a nice long metal spoon at the homebrew store, but it just didn't look as durable as I would like. The metal was rather thin, probably less than 1/32". And barely long enough. I asked about a wooden mash paddle, like the ones you see on the internet for about $40, and the owner said that his suppliers don't sell them. So, it looked like another project time! Yay!

After reading up on the Internet and in a homebrew magazine that I subscribe to, it looked like the best wood choice was a nice hard wood like maple. So, off to The Home Depot to find a suitable piece of wood. The only problem was, the one I went to only had pine, red oak (too porous), and poplar (which was too grainy/pitted), and cheap "whitewood". Disappointed, I sulked off. Looks like I have to go elsewhere.

So, today, I headed out to another Depot, hoping their wood selection would be better. No such luck. I guess it doesn't sell well enough for them to keep it in stock. Since it was just a quarter mile down the road, I figured I'd try my luck at BLowe's. I avoid it as much as possible since it don't pay my bills but sometimes, it's worth the try if El Depot de la Casa don't carry stock. And guess what. They had maple boards. So I bought one. It only cost me $8.50 for a 1x4x48" plank. A far cry from the $40 bucks or so to order one pre-made!

I got it home and started measuring and marking. I'm not a stickler for perfection on simple projects where the only consumer is me so I marked some guidelines and free-handed a few curves and cut-outs then headed down to the garage to drill/cut/router/sand. About an hour and a half later, my masterpiece was complete! I didn't think to take pics during the construction so you'll just have to imagine from the jigsaw puzzle of scraps. I also took a picture with it resting in my homemade mash tun so that you could see perspective. There are a few places where it isn't perfect, chipped edge and bad drill placement on the upper handle, but the business end is pretty decent.

*cross posted at SudsPundit

Monday, September 01, 2008

at the risk of being insensitive

People just don't get it when it comes to air. You can't see it, so it doesn't exist, right? No, wrong.

If you're transporting large items in an open vehicle, like a truck, and you think there might be even the remote possibility that it might move in transit, strap it down. Strap it in well. The box spring in your open bed truck that is not even lying flat because of the crap underneath it, like a kid's bike, may just in fact take one bad bounce, catch a little bit of airflow, succumb to natural laws of physics regarding fluid flow, and become airborne. Straight up about 10 feet before coming down. On the interstate highway. Traveling at about 65 mph. With someone driving behind you (at a safe distance). That someone being me. With the unfortunate circumstance of having the box spring go to the right while someone is in the left lane right next to them. So they hit your box spring. And luckily gets away with a couple of scratches and dents in their four month old car instead of possible bodily injury to themselves (and wife!) or possible others (if I had swerved left to avoid it).

Just ask the people in southern Louisiana (and AL, MS, TX, etc.) about the power of something you can't even see. I suppose that you might be able to see the movement by watching how the rain drops are affected. But you still can't see the air. That's where the power of that storm is. Movement of ridiculously small individual molecules. In ridiculously large numbers.

And of course, you can't have a good natural disaster story without having the old standby. You know, the poor sob story about the affect of relocation on some poor family or other. Like this one on CNN.

After enjoying that fine piece of journalism, please pay particular attention to this line.
She brought two hair weaves with her from New Orleans and is passing the time by styling them and trying to reach friends on her cell phone.
Somehow, there's money for hair weaves and cell phones but not for food and gas. Only in the US.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

i know that color!!

Once again, my wife and I allowed ourselves to be pillaged for the "privilege" of being Georgia Tech season ticket holders. We do it because we love going to the games. It gives us an excuse to hang out enjoying the weather and good friends with good food and good beer. To be honest, we could spend as much as we do all season doing just one short trip to Orlando or any other tourist destination so it's not horrible. We just sometimes feel that we get fleeced paying full face value plus a "seat premium" for supposedly better seats when they hand out free tickets, family packs on the cheap that include food, drink, and spirit wear, or tickets for $12 for a few days before a low sales game.

Anyhow, not to complain about that here. The title of the post has nothing to do with bitchy season ticket holders. It has to do with the new GT uniforms. Mostly, when I saw it, I thought "Wow, now they are going to have to call us the Olive Jackets", or something else to describe that color, which is certainly some bastard child of gold and an amalgam of army fatigue greens. In the stadium, the helmets don't look like they match the pants and we sure don't look like we stole Notre Dame's helmets and slapped a GT logo on the side anymore, but they do look like they match the pants on TV and in photos. I don't know, it sort of grew on me during the game, but not in a "I really dig the new unis" kind of way. Supposedly change is sometimes good and I'm sure that we are just on the front end of some freakish return to 70's-era color palettes. Maybe. I think?

After a few days, it really dawned on me what the color really was. Big thanks to the Russell sports wear guys. No, really. You really pulled a fast one on us there. I know that we don't graduate a lot of fashion designers or anything since we aren't much of a liberal arts school (yet!) but it looks like UGA did train some. And they work for Russell. As a designer. And they gave us this color scheme. See pics below for more detail. They say pictures can speak a thousand words or so and I invite you to listen carefully to what these can say.

Saturday, August 30, 2008


I thought it would happen in my lifetime, but I never imagined it would happen this soon. It is truly amazing that our country will most likely elect a president that will either place a bi-racial man or a woman into the White House in January of 2009.

How novel.

Monday, August 25, 2008

how mccain can win my vote

Pick a quality VP candidate. It's not too much to ask. I definitely won't vote for his top competitor so he has that going for him.

Who would win my vote? Three people that I can think of. The easiest choice is Ron Paul. Want a guaranteed vote from me in November? Pick this guy. He's honest, he's not overly conservative, he upholds the Constitution, is a foreign non-interventionist, and he has a vision for the country that involves us remaining on top. He has the age thing working against him if that's an issue for a voter but that just leads me think that those voters have a lack of faith in modern medicine and statistics that people are living well past 80.

Who else might win my vote? Condoleeza Rice. It'd up the ante on Obama's race-card by raising him a vagina. It's not that I'm a big Condoleeza fan, I'd just really enjoy seeing some of the air let out on the whole "historic and monumental" Obama band-wagon. Besides, it'd make great TV and talk radio between now and November.

Mike Huckabee. And for the sole reason that he is a Fair Tax supporter. Do I believe it's a panacea for our country? No, but it's a good start and will stop rewarding non-productive people (economically speaking, not reproductively) at the expense of the productive people. He's a bit too theologically conservative for my tastes, but that would probably be a good thing for the McCain ticket vote-bringing-wise since it means putting our women, gay people, and pre-aborted fetuses in their place for the ultra-conservatives. Wow, I just made up a double-hyphenated word in there somewhere.

So listen up Mr. McCain!
  1. Ron Paul
  2. Condoleeza Rice
  3. distant third, Mike Huckabee
I still predict keeping the party happy by picking Mr. Second Place. I'm still going to cross my fingers for a McCain-Paul ticket.

Friday, August 15, 2008

ma gooch's, cleveland, ga

The new job took me to Cleveland, GA just a few weeks ago. I apologize for the delay in the update, but it's not like anyone is reading this regularly enough to matter anyhow.

I woke up pretty early by today's standards and headed out towards Cleveland, GA where I was to train the middle school teachers of White County. I don't like surprises on the road so I always plan to arrive at least an hour early. Today, I was more on track for two hours early because I over-estimated the time it would take to make copies at Kinko's on the way. I hadn't really eaten breakfast and was seriously in need of a decent cup of black coffee. I arrived at the town square of Cleveland and surmised that it was really more of a town circle in the style of a European round-a-bout. It was difficult to look for a restaurant while keeping the other cars at bay and looking for the right street so I ended up just going along my route, hoping something else would turn up ahead. I turned again on my route and ended up at a little place that looked inviting enough and relatively new. Turns out they only accept cash and I only had $5 so it's off to the bank. Double back on my route back towards town and I see another place that looks much more "worn in" while sitting at the traffic light. Got some cash, came back to the new find. The first store's loss if you ask me for not taking plastic. I found myself at Ma Gooch's in the heart of Cleveland, GA.

It's a pretty neat place, a building in the corner of a parking lot of a somewhat larger shopping center. When you come in, you can either be seated at the table section to the left or the diner side to the right. Of course I chose the diner side. They let me pick my own table which is always a source of anxiety for me. I never choose the right table it seems, always picking the wobbly one or the booth where the table is too close to the seat on both sides. Got lucky and picked a decent one for once.

The cook was out at the bar and I asked him what was good there. Of course he started rattling off the whole menu. So, I figured I'd go with my country breakfast standard. Two eggs scrambled, patty sausage, biscuit and gravy. I'm so vanilla when it comes to breakfast. But it does at least let me compare different restaurants on a level playing field. Speaking of, I had a hard time adjusting to the regular meal style breakfast while I was in Japan a few years back. Sorry, just can't do soup, fish, etc. for breakfast, too. My stomach is too conditioned after years of good, old American style breakfast, heavy on the starches please!

Anyhow, coffee was standard diner fare, not spectacular but definitely drinkable. The eggs were awesome, not too greasy, not browned on the edges. That's one of my biggest peeves with scrambled eggs. I have trouble not browning them, but then again I don't cook them everyday for a paycheck. Sausage was good, hand-formed patties which is rare these days. And the biscuit and gravy combo was dead-on, little chunks of sausage in the gravy with a little saltiness to it and just the right consistency on the gravy. Biscuit was standard fare, but at least it was fully cooked.

I also had an interesting chat with the cook after he prepared my order. It was about 10:30 and they were kind of between breakfast and lunch. He was wearing a New England Patriots hat so I asked him if he was from up north. Turns out that he was born and raised in Georgia so I ragged him about being a fair-weather fan but then asked him seriously about why the NE hat. He gave me a story about how he was watching one of their Super Bowl appearances (didn't ask specifically, so it could have been any of the last 22 games since they're always in it) with his dear ol' Grandma, just before she died. He said it was the last memory he had of her and they were rooting for the Pats so he sort of just became a fan. Said he's a Falcons fan as well, but they haven't been doing well. I concurred and stated my reasons for not being a huge fan in recent years due to their "thug team" stylings. A few more personnel changes and I might bring myself to be able to watch them again.

Anyhow... a great diner-style breakfast if you find yourself in Cleveland, GA for whatever reason. You might stop in on your way to Babyland General, birthplace (literally) of Cabbage Patch Kids, or to the local zoo, Wildlife Wonders, as seen on Dirty Jobs, or even on your way to hokey ass Helen, GA. And just in case you're wondering, Ma Gooch's will take credit cards, unlike the other place I almost stopped at.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

country cottage family restaurant, woodstock, ga

I took the car in for an oil change early this morning and figured it was as good a time as any to grab some breakfast on the way home. I also stopped by a car wash on Hwy 92 in Woodstock that claimed to have free vacuums for purchasers of an automated wash, but the machine failed to produce the token needed to claim said vacuuming service. Grr.

Anyhow, about the breakfast...

Place was kind of dingy on the outside which sometimes means good. Also dingy on the inside but sometimes that's okay. It's the food that makes the decisions for me!

Ordered a standard coffee, no cream anytime they ask. If the coffee is good, it doesn't need cream or sugar. Unfortunately, I should have asked for the cream. Drinkable, but barely. As in I'd rather drink from the 12-hour old pot of trucker's coffee at the Waffle House.

Not too many choices on the menu, breakfast plates and omelets. I'm not a big omelet fan so I chose the plate. Two eggs, choice of meat, grits or gravy, biscuit or toast. People who know my breakfast preferences know I got scrambled eggs, biscuit and gravy, but maybe they don't know the sausage.

Sausage was obviously cut from a cylinder of sausage. Not even a slight attempt at forming it into a neater patty. Hey, at least it's not from frozen! Or maybe not as I have had better frozen sausage. Not good.

Biscuit? Looks fantastic. Until it's opened. That's when I realized that the thicker portion of the biscuit was still dough. Oh well, raw dough ain't going to kill ya' so I ate it anyhow. The gravy was made with sausage grease, as it should be, but lacked a bit of substance and was overly salty.

But hey, the eggs were good. It's not impossible, but it's tougher to screw up scrambled eggs.

In the black and white world of hit or miss breakfast restaurants, I'd say Country Cottage Family Restaurant gets a big ol' miss. Airball, even. You'd be better off driving an extra mile or two to the Sunshine Biscuit Co, reviewed earlier.

Who knows? Maybe it's better at lunch time.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

the universal sign for asshole

...can be found here.

I don't know about too many former national leaders that had their own salute. I remember some of them having gestures that they made, the "W" referenced in the article by our current prez and Nixon's infamous peace signs. But I can only think of one that was greeted with salutes from their followers.

But is this the best they could come up with? Way to shun the perfectly good "O" created by/for our deaf community! Or did you have to pay royalties for that one?

I also think that this refers to the new size of my (and any other middle class folks) bum hole if this guy gets elected, which is looking more and more likely judging by the cult of personality that this guy has been able to create.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

sunrise biscuit co., marietta, ga

I always warned my readers (is the plural even necessary, much less singular?) that this would be a dumping ground for my chaotic and unpredictable whims for online publishing. My latest idea is to provide insight on the restaurants where I end up from time to time. I always avoid the chains when I can and it seems that I can never really find good, quality information about some of these smaller establishments. So if you want an honest, not-picky, rarely critical review of some interesting little spots that I happen upon in my day-to-day journeys, then read on! Otherwise, go stick a pork rind in your ear.

Today, I was out and about around my home turf and realized a small, uncrowded breakfast shop on Canton Road on the left just before you hit Hawkins Store Road going northbound. It is called the Sunrise Biscuit Company and if you know how much of a sucker I am for a good biscuit then you know that stopping in for a taste was not a want but rather a necessity.

I am usually wary of places with few or no customers and it's generally a rule that it's off limits, but there were a couple of nice motorcycles in the parking lot and if you know anything about the average motorcycle rider it's fairly certain that they usually have the inside scoop on good grub. Besides, it was about 9 AM, well after the construction crew rush so it may just be a lull before the lunch rush.

The place is well kept. It has a small, local feel but a little more well-maintained than most ordinary breakfast/lunch-only restaurants that I'm used to. The waitress, Tami, greeted me kindly when I entered and showed me to a table. One patron was just leaving and the motorcycle couple was still seated at the table next to me so I didn't really break my rule. Tami asked what I'd like to drink and it being the morning and all my response was the usual, a nice cup of regular coffee. That decaff crap is for hippies and old people that can't handle the caffeine but still need to prompt their bowels that have been trained so well in the Pavlovian style. Besides, decaf (one 'f' or two??) seems so unnatural.

The cup of joe was larger than the usual cup and I appreciated that I didn't need an ice cube or two in order to drink it immediately without parboiling my tongue. In the style of Goldilocks, it was "just right."

Now it came time to order. I asked Tami what was good and she started rattling off pretty much 80% of the breakfast menu. She mentioned the bacon and biscuits and gravy so I asked her what I could order to try both without too much of one or the other, a good balance. She suggested the sunrise breakfast which was two eggs cooked to order (I take them scrambled), choice of meat (bacon, duhr!), choice of potatoes but I could substitute sausage gravy, and of course a biscuit. Perfect! She asked for my name and from then on she called me by name, Jehoshephat Larkins, for the rest of the morning. (nah, I told her my regular, bland name)

After reading that Belgium is on the brink again and how many more layoffs are expected at GM and Rubbermaid (woo hoo, a good news day!) the order arrived. Mmmm, smells and looks delicious!

The eggs were fork-scrambled and cooked omelet-style, folded, and presented on the plate. A little on the oily-side, but I should have tasted them before adding salt and pepper. They were already fairly salty from the pan and I put it over the edge. Still pretty good and cooked without browning the eggs, always a plus in my book.

The biscuit was rather tasty, light, just fluffy enough, and browned perfectly! I added some sausage gravy to the rest. The gravy was rather run-of-the-mill and too thick/lumpy for my preference, but it did have real sausage bits and grease in it and it seemed to be made by hand rather than from a packet (not that I verified for certain with the cook) so maybe it had just been simmering for too long from an earlier breakfast rush.

Oh, the bacon. Talk about tasty! I complimented Tami on the bacon and she said that it is applewood-smoked. And the thickness is just right for cooking. You get a little bit of crisp, but also the tenderness of the cured meat. It had a nice smoke flavor with a very distinct maple syrup flavor that seemed to come from the smoke rather than artificial flavoring. I'm no expert on such matters, but it seemed authentic.

So, if you're ever in the greater Marietta area and are looking for a good breakfast, this is definitely an option. There are a few other good breakfast/lunch places around as well and I'll post about them as soon as I revisit one of them.

Friday, June 20, 2008

graphjam fun

Have you checked out GraphJam? If not, it's another great way to waste an hour or four.

Hooray wasted productivity!

Here's my feeble attempt at musical dissection.

Monday, June 02, 2008

believing for a change

All of the political rhetoric about change this voting season has really had an effect on me. I actually started to buy into it. So much, in fact, that I actually created some change of my own. I quit my job.

Well, actually it was more of a resignation. I had the decency to notify them back in March and then finished up my commitment to complete the school year per my contract.

The way it works with public education is that they give you a contract for the next school year sometime around February. I think that they do this so that you really never have time to consider doing anything else. It's difficult to schedule interviews during the school year for obvious reasons (at least for those of us that actually have a work ethic and try hard not to take unnecessary days off from class) and the contract goes into effect on June 1, less than a week after the last day for teachers. Where are you supposed to find a new job in there? That's kind of a rhetorical question for most public school teachers because a "new job" to most of them only means moving to another school which is most commonly arranged by agreeing to coach some sport for them. For those of us with a "real degree," we might be looking for other alternatives.

It feels like they used to issue contracts in April and each year pushed it back a week or so until it was almost February when we got them this year. I had grand visions of bringing the unsigned contract into the principal's office, placing it on his desk, urinating on it, then lighting it on fire. I abandoned this fantasy due to the obvious complications created by making one's urine flammable. Instead, I simply drafted a standard resignation letter, notified the people it actually matters to, and then submitted the paperwork to the principal.

It's not like I am totally without a plan, although I am kind of a private person and didn't quite share with everyone what my plans are. Instead, I told them either a spontaneous lie along the lines of PGA-tour caddy or that I have something part-time but no full-time plans. The latter is more accurate although the first one would be fun if anyone needs a quirky-but-lovable caddy.

My real plan involves something along the lines of being a science education consultant. Through a convoluted series of events and an oddly-connected network I ended up with an offer to train teachers how to use lab equipment for a science textbook/equipment company. It looks like I might be playing Vanna White on a few sales calls as well. And somehow, on my "first day" I ended up with some distribution responsibilities. And the task of moving a small warehouse to a more convenient location. The best part was the opportunity to discover where McDuffie County, Georgia is and train a few teachers there. And somehow this all started the day after my last day at Wheeler High School. No gap, no vacation, so I'm not a full deadbeat. Oh, and I have to suffer Charleston, SC next week for training purposes.

So I think that I am going to be finding a new purpose for this loosely formatted blog. If the new job is going to be sending me all over the rural Southeast, I am going to concurrently pursue my other hobby of seeking out good local restaurants. I found one in Thomson, GA. Look for more info in the near future.

In the meantime, here's to believing in a change for a change. Wait change that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

missing information

How dismal is the housing market, really?

Everyday, we hear about the number of sales in the housing sector declining. For example, check out this article today in the AJC.

The questions that I have are:
  1. how many houses are going on the market compared to last year at the same time?
  2. how many new houses were constructed compared to last year?
It's my guess that with the uncertainty lingering over our country, fueled by every media outlet in the country (world?) that a lot of people are choosing to just stay put. I know from multiple reports that foreclosures are higher than normal, but how many people is that affecting number-wise? Percentages don't help as much as real numbers in this case because there are just too many variables.

Also, since people are more hesitant about buying, it seems only logical that builders would be more hesitant about building. If there are no new houses to buy, can sales continue to rise, especially if people are choosing to be less transient?

I suppose the question that I'm really asking is are we looking at a growth/decrease/stability in the population in this area, not how many houses happened to be sold in a given month.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

suck my ass, sam waterston!

Looks like the Unity08'ers are nothing but a bunch of panda-raping, namby-pamby quitters. I don't really think they rape pandas, that was just me getting your attention.

Build up. Slower build up. Even slower build up. Fizzle. Just like a M. Night Shamamlam movie.

I guess it was doomed from the get-go. First, it was infiltrated by a bastion of bed-wetters pretending not to be Democrats. That was apparent by the fact that the #1 issue (based on free-membership voting, mind you) was global "climate change." Otherwise known as "global warming" but that term has been officially abandoned because people in the Dakotas were praying for it and the new term covers the agenda in the event that the average global temperature ends up decreasing. And we all know what happens when Democrats get to make the decisions. Either an all-out cluster-fuck, or indecisive inertia. I honestly can't tell which one this one was. Not that we don't get cluster-fucks or inertia from Republicans.

I'm ready for a real third party option. No matter who gets the benefit of voting fraud in November, I still feel like any of the current candidates will simply be "more of the same." The lesser of two evils is still evil.