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Friday, December 28, 2012

I love Google

                                                                 I love Google

Google helps me get to where I'm going, I just have to talk into my phone via  Google Latitude (and it is always updated), and presto! The Goog tells me step by step what to do.  Apple's iPhone app, on the other hand, sometimes sends you to places you don't necessarily want to go, which prompted Apple to allow Google (I love Google) to place its map application into the App(le) Store, so now directionally impaired iPhone users can experience the same joy of getting to their destination as I do.

I love Google calendar, which allows me to sync my office calendar to my (Android based) phone and to all of my computers, as well as, seamlessly, to my wife's phone (she has an iPhone, but I hope to get her onto a Samsung Galaxy III soon).

I love Google Reader, which allows me to subscribe to various blogs, and which would allow anyone who wanted to, to subscribe to mine. That is if anyone wanted to (sigh).

I love Blogger, which enables me to easily produce this drivel.

I love YouTube.  Apple stopped allowing people to download YouTube to iPhones and iPads, although I believe that they have now caved (afraid of the competition, hmm?  Then make your apps as good as other folks apps!)

I also love Amazon.  I love buying music via Amazon and having it automatically download my music to my laptop, to the cloud, AND to my iTunes account.  Apple won't let you listen to iTunes purchases on a competing system without going through silly rigmarole such as burning a CD, then ripping the CD back to your computer in MP3 format. Silly Apple.

If I remember correctly, Apple almost went under in its early years, because it refused to share code with program developers.  As a consequence, most programs were written for the PC.  In my business (accounting), I wouldn't dream of buying a Mac (they sure are pretty) since accounting software is primarily written for PC's.

I hear that Google+ is pretty cool, but I haven't warmed up to it yet (did you like that little play on words?  With a little effort, I could write Country songs).

In fairness, the iPad is pretty cool, but it is still so damned Apple proprietary!

Now you know. I love Google. I call it "The Goog" or just "Googs" when I'm in a playful mood.  We're tight like that.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday thoughts

I have friends and relatives from all over the world.  One thing I've noticed is that when getting together, people like to compare and contrast the differences between them. What has really fascinated me though, is how absolutely sure that their way is better than our way (understand, that I believe this also applies to "my people" believing that our way is better than someone else's). I believe that we are all a product of our upbringing, modified by our life experiences.  Underneath it all, and generally speaking, I believe that we are all pretty much the same.

The other night, at a function, a person from another country made mention of "how loud Americans are".  I knew by the way this person said it, that being loud was less preferable to being quiet. I've heard Americans laugh at Soccer vs. U.S. Football; I've heard Australians laugh at U.S. Football vs. Rugby; I've heard British people laugh at Baseball vs. Cricket. All the laughter was derisive toward the other country's sport, of course.

We just don't know that much about each other, I think. When I lived in England, I was regularly asked if all Americans carried guns (these days, that's probably a fair question). Over here, I have to grin at the people who think that the United Kingdom consists of London alone.  I spent a few months in Greece years ago, and when asked where I was from in the US, finally started telling people "Atlanta", because it was much easier to explain than "close to Chattanooga, which is in Tennessee, and that is close to Georgia, which contains Atlanta" "OH, Atlanta!" they would say, with a flicker of recognition in their eyes (but mostly, they didn't really care).

This isn't confined to international borders. People in the little town I live in look at folks from New York, Chicago and L.A. as "Yankees" - yeah, I know, not Yankees, but to some of us Southerners, anyone from north of here (north also includes west, by the way) is by definition a Yankee, and therefore, not a person to be trusted. I know some people who look down their noses at the poor rhubarbs from the sticks, with our limited world views and all, and just shake their heads ("smh", they say to themselves, in a pitying voice).

I love college football.  I love SEC football. Other people love Big 10 football (or whatever that conference is called these days). I know with absolute certainty, that SEC football is better than all the other football, but I imagine that people in say, Iowa, probably think that the Hawkeyes are inherently superior. Those people are wrong, of course (read this for a minute, {smirk}), but it shows that people are often defined by where they come from.

Final point.  I'm an Episcopalian.  I'm an Episcopalian because my Mom is English and she grew up in the Church of England which is Anglican. Therefore, I also grew up in the Church of England.  The Episcopal Church is an Anglican denomination, so it makes sense that I would become an Episcopalian when we moved to the US.  Conversely, most of the people in my little town are either Southern Baptist or Church of God.  Makes sense. Lots of Lutherans in Minnesota.  Why?  Who settled a good part of Minnesota, and what was their denomination?  If I were born in Saudi Arabia, guess what?  I'd probably be Muslim, and so would you!!!

So, all of this was to get you to watch an '80's video. Probably. I always liked Depeche Mode.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I think I'm ready to go back to network news

On Friday we had the horrific shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where so many people were gunned down by a mentally ill person. I think it has shaken the whole country and seems to have at least started a conversation about how we treat and take care of our mentally ill. The conversation about gun control is polarizing and ongoing, and I have no intention of getting into it with this post (except: why do we need assault weapons? I can't quite remember).

I was more interested in talking about the way we get our news these days. On Friday I was eating lunch with a couple of friends (Yummy sushi in Cleveland. Try it. It's good. Get the dancing Tuna roll), and noticed the story developing on the TV in the restaurant. Of course I immediately started scrolling through my Twitter and Facebook timelines. Slate quickly reported that the shooter was a 24 year old man named Ryan Lanza, and they were kind enough to point their readers to a FB page that they thought was his. He posted that it wasn't him (see below).

I also heard on Twitter that: both of his parents had been killed; his brother had been killed; his mother was the teacher in the classroom he went to; his friend and the friends girlfriend were missing...
Later that day, Slate came back with a correction that it wasn't Ryan, but his brother Adam. I was amazed that Slate wasn't apologetic about the misinformation that they had helped spread. We also found out later that the father was alive (a reporter broke the story to him as he was pulling into his driveway!!!) and that the mother didn't work at the school. All the while, the news shows were posting the death toll as if it were a game score.

Here's my point: there is this incredible rush to be the first to break a story - oh, I know, I run to twitter, FB, cable news, anywhere I can to eat up breaking news. But, you know what? I think I'd really rather wait an hour or two and let the news outlets get their facts straight. This is one reason why I'm about ready to turn off MSNBC, FOX and CNN. The networks have just a short time each evening to present a few stories instead of 24 hours each day to fill up like the cable folks do. During the day, the network execs make decisions about which stories to cover and in what detail. In the meantime, FOX spends all day spouting the most silly right wing bullshit. MSNBC, while at least telling the truth, does it in a completely left slanted fashion (with the exception of Morning Joe). And CNN, for some reason, is content to read its viewers tweets (what a disappointment that network has become) and call it news. So, I think I'll just go back to the traditional nightly news.

May I ask one more question? Why is it so important to rank this shooting as the "second most deadly school shooting in history" as CNN showed on its scroll all Saturday morning? Why do we always have to rank disasters? What the hell is wrong with us? Ok. That was three questions.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Frankenstein on the right

(This is another blog post that is completely meaningless, and really has no point)

I got out of the shower the other day and was looking at myself in the mirror while I shaved (sorry about the visual that is now seared into your cerebral cortex). I'd kind of forgotten, but I've got five scars on the right side of my body. One from when my kidney was removed, another from the gross tube put in me from when my kidney was removed. Another is from where my shoulder was nailed back together after I broke my collar bone and one from where they took a little of my hip and put it up in my shoulder, to help it heal. Most recently, I had a teeny bit of upper chest removed because of a melanoma that I had ignored (DON'T IGNORE DARK, IRREGULAR, SPREADING PLACES ON YOUR SKIN). It kinda grew in some, and spread some, and necessitated the doctor going (like the old church hymn) deep and wide. Don't worry, I won't Instagram any pictures.

Six! Six scars! I forgot that I have a very small scar on my nose (right nostril), where I had Mohs surgery (to remove some skin cancer there as well. "Welcome to Mohs").

Wait! When I was 18, a piece of steel spring broke off of the garage door I was working on and almost put my right eye out, instead cutting my head at the eyebrow line. Hang on, let me see if there is a scar there as well.........yep. There it is. Huh.

It just started me thinking about how odd it is that all my stuff has happened on my right side. Oh, I also broke all my wrist bones in a stupid motorcycle accident. My right wrist, of course.

Now, I'm left handed. I mean, I'm reeaally left handed. You should see me throw with my right hand. No, you shouldn't. Below is kind of what I look like throwing right handed (never mind that most of these are right hander's throwing left handed):

So, what's my point? Am I saying that stuff happens to my right side because I'm left handed? Am I saying that my left side is protecting itself, while my right side is just clumsy?

 Naah. I just wanted to talk about my scars.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Me and running

Did I ever tell you how I started running? Want to know? Ok, then.

I had always wanted to run a marathon, but had never done anything about it or really planned to do anything about it. I took my friend, Paul to the Chickamauga Marathon one year and drank coffee and read the newspaper while he ran, but that was as close as I came to running myself.

Fast forward to late 2000.  I was playing football with a group of church kids (I was quarterback, natch). Well, in the middle of a glorious QB sneak, as I was passing the defensive line, I told a kid that he couldn't block me. Turned out, he could. A minute or so later, I invited all the kids around to see what a broken collar bone looked like.

Fast forward a few more months. The bone pieces hadn't knitted, so I  had surgery to nail them together, but in the process, I'd gained about 30 pounds!!!

This is where we talk about me running. I was disgusted with how much weight I'd gained and wanted to do something about it. At the same time, at work, I had an IRS agent camped out in my office, auditing one of my clients (I'm a CPA). It was frustrating. Anyhow, I started going to the YMCA and was walking, then running, on the treadmill. I was really enjoying it and started thinking about my goal of running a marathon. I lost the 30 pounds and just as importantly, found that my frustration over this drawn out audit would go away when I ran!

So, I met up with my friend Jerry who agreed to help me train. Jerry had run either two or three marathons at that point. We would run through the week and do either long runs or races on weekends. I ran several 5k's, a few 10k's and then graduated up to a half marathon. I finally did my first marathon (Chickamauga) in November of 2004.

It is important to note that I'm not very good, but over the past 8 years I have finished 9 marathons (Chickamauga x 3, Country Music, Disney, Flying Monkey x 3 and New York) and about 30 half marathons. I've loved running them. I've loved running in general.

But, here we are in late 2012. I lost my running mojo about a year ago and have put on about 10 of the 30 pounds I had lost and kept off for almost a decade. I have run a couple of halfathons this year but done poorly and, as a matter of fact, can barely squeak through a very short run here in December.

BUT, I've got some plans for next year. I'll tell you about them later. In the meantime, I'm ready to get that mojo back. If only I could remember where I put it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Using numbers to fake, I mean make, your point

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." - Benjamin Disraeli, as popularized by Mark Twain

I was reading a response in the Dec. 1, 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs "Are Taxes Too Damn High?" by Grover Norquist. I imagine you know what he thinks, and I'm not really planning to debate that one way or another. One paragraph in particular jumped out at me, however. His response essentially castigates Andrea Campbell for her essay entitled "America the Undertaxed" (Here's a linky-link: It was in the September/October 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs).

Anyhow, in this particular paragraph (page 158), Mr. Norquist states: 

 "Still, it is laughable to argue that the present U.S. tax code does not sufficiently take from those who create income and wealth and jobs and give those dollars to those who don’t. The top one percent of income earners in the United States pay 39.6 percent of all federal income taxes. The top five percent pay 61 percent. The top ten percent pay 72.7 percent. The lower half of income earners pay a mere 2.4 percent."

Well, duh! The point that he is not making is that the the top one percent of income earners earn 44% of all the income!!!  So, while his statistics may be correct, they are also misleading (you can tailor and present figures to imply most anything you want). To me, it seems that by coupling these two pieces of information together, the top 1% of income earners are paying a disproportionately small share of the taxes.

Campbell herself makes this point in her reply to his response (phew, so much arguing!), although she is more charitable to Mr. Norquist than I was.  She says that "each income group pays about the same share in taxes as it earns in total income" (top of page 162).

Anyhow, again, my point is not to debate tax policy, just to make the teeny-tiny point that you can't just take a statistic at face value, you have to look at what the numbers say, and often don't say.

Here is something from Todd Snider, one of my favorite musicians:

Now: Who is going to be the next Tennessee football coach?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Some things that puzzle me

I was drinking my coffee this morning and was thinking about some things that puzzle me:

Why people want me to post how I met them on their Facebook wall?  Also, why does the act of sharing a post on FB signify anything (i.e. "Share this in two minutes if you love Jesus - If I take three minutes does it mean I only like Jesus, or that I don't love Jesus at all?).

The comma (‘nuff said)

The excessive celebration rule in college football
but, also

Why professional football players do the elaborate stupid dances that they do after they score.

The DH in the American League (that’s baseball, FYI)

Electricity (pretty sure it is magic)


TV folks who say that they will see me tomorrow. Do they see me now? I’d better stop scratching myself while I watch the news, in that case.

How music gets onto a CD.  For that matter, how does the turntable needle release the sound in the grooves of an album. More magic, says I.

My local Panera has an open air patio with a door.  Why?

Why businesses often pick the most unfriendly of their employees to man the front desk, or answer the phones.

Diet Coke

Woody Allen movies

People who are too cool to admit they like something that is popular

Why you would read this

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Chickamauga Halfathon

I ran another race.

I know you've been anxiously awaiting news of how Chickamauga went (this is an example of self-deprecating sarcasm. I don't really think that anyone has been anxiously awaiting this. See how I used that literary device to exhibit, well, self-deprecating sarcasm? Now, if I could just figure out the mysteries of the comma, I'd be ready for the NY Times (more sarcasm. I guess you got that)). 

Sorry. Anyhow, it sucked.  The race that is.  The one I was talking about up there.

If you are looking for a beautiful race to run, this is it. If it is your first marathon, they will greet you at the finish line with a framed copy of your race bib. It's pretty cool. If you are looking for some tasty, tasty chicken tortilla soup after a race, this is also the place to be.  Finally, if you are looking for a race that will scare the crap out of you at the beginning, then this, again, is the place - they shoot off a Civil War cannon to start the race.  It's....loud.

The good news is that I came in 30th in my age group (M50-54. It's searchable. Whatever).  The bad news is that there were only 31 men in my age group.

My training strategy has been - so it seems - to run very little between races, so as to be fresh for the race.  Doesn't work.

I started running with a pace group and all was well until about mile 5, when my right IT Band started hurting and I alternately "ran", hobbled, and walked.  At mile 9, my hip was feeling left out and joined in the fun.

I've heard of people "death marching" the end of a marathon. Heck, I've done it myself. But I found myself doing the same during this HALF marathon! Did I mention that I dropped down from the full marathon to the half because I'm a blob not very well trained these days?

So, I did the runners walk of shame during the last half of a half marathon!!!

The only other thing to mention is that from about mile 9 to about mile 12, a girl who was in as much pain as I was, started to pass me, then I would pass her and so on, back and forth.  We were sort of like zombies who hadn't turned all foamy and green yet.

                                             That's me in the middle (artists depiction)

With about a half mile to go, after I shuffled past her one last time, she looked up and said "You'd better beat me!" - I told her that we would finish together, and so we did, even to the point of right before the final turn, pretending to run to the finish (gotta look good for the photo!).

Her Mom came up to me afterwards and thanked me for running in with her daughter, and I swelled with pride at my outstanding job of not falling over in front every one.

Oh! Guess what?  It was my slowest half marathon ever!!!

There's nowhere to go but up from here!  I've got some lofty goals!

Stay tuned.  All three of you!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Playing to the lowest common denominator


A few years ago, in The Great State Of Tennessee, Governor Sundquist decided that it was too problematic for grocery store clerks to use discretion when deciding if a customer was old enough to buy beer.  He sent a law through the legislature that said (I'm paraphrasing) that all customers buying beer must produce id, regardless of age. Now, instead of using a common sense approach, i.e "if you look like you are younger than 40, you must show id", instead, your own great grandfather would have to show you his drivers licence before you could sell beer to him in the grocery store. Also, an existing law here says that it is illegal for a minor to sell alcohol.


So, I'm in the local Bi-Lo grocery store in beautiful Cleveland, Tennessee one day, and I put my 6 pack (not my abs, but beer) on the conveyor belt for the clerk to ring up.  Of course, she asks me for my id (please see my profile picture to understand why that is such a stupid thing).                 ------->                                        

                                                               or  ↓  for a closeup


                                                              THE STORE CLERK

I show her my id, and then she asks me if I will press the enter key on the cash register, because if she rings it up, SHE WILL BE BREAKING THE LAW, as she is only 17!

"Eh, whatever", you say.  "Why are you getting so excited about that?"  BECAUSE IT IS STUPID! We are conditioning ourselves to accept stupidity as the norm.

Stating the obvious:  First, I'm 53.  Anyone who thinks I could possibly be too young to purchase alcohol should not be allowed to operate a cash register. Second, pressing a button, or having me press a button, does nothing to achieve the goals of these laws, which, ultimately, are to keep underage people from buying and selling alcohol.

I don't have any great answers.  Just thought I'd gripe.

Thanks for reading.  Now, you kids: Get off my lawn!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The worst day ever

I am a criminal

I committed an unlawful act!  I ran into Starbucks today to get A CUP OF COFFEE, got stuck behind the fancy-shmancy coffee orderers for just a couple of minutes. When I got back to my car, maybe 5 minutes later, I had this parking ticket on my windshield, and a homeless looking guy with a portable ticket machine was slinking into the background (where he would presumably lie in wait for another unsuspecting yet hardened, parking meter scofflaw).

Then, as if that catastrophe wasn't bad enough, I went to Moe's to get a Homerwrecker in a bowl, with tofu and black beans, and THEY DIDN'T HAVE ANY BLACK BEANS!!!  (I knew I should have gone to Mojo Burrito's).

I know what you are thinking. "How could Ian's day possibly get any worse!?!"  Well it did!  On the way home, I was stuck behind an RV from Texas.  He was driving in the left lane, AND WOULDN'T MOVE OVER!!!

It's pretty much the worst day in history. I'm going to have to take some time to compose myself.

Please keep me in your thoughts.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fun Facts about the Electoral College

Currently consists of 538 electors (equal to the number of Senators and Representatives, each state's number is allocated the same as its Congressional delegation). DC gets 3, thanks to the 23rd Amendment. See the current allocation by clicking on this link

It takes a simple majority of electors to win the Presidency - so, 270 wins.

In most of the states (excepting Maine and Nebraska), it is a winner takes all situation, meaning the candidate who wins the popular vote in that state gets all the electors. This is why it is possible to win the popular vote and lose the Electoral College vote - ask Samuel J. Tilden. Well you can't because he is dead, but click on the link.

Tilden (above) outpolled Hayes (below), but Hayes became our esteemed 19th President, doing very little while in office.

 This is also why larger states that are very close in the polls are so important (for instance, the winner of the highly contested, and very close, Ohio vote will pick up 18 Electors, or about 6.7% of the total electors needed to win - even if he only wins the state by one vote)

Why the Electoral College?

The Electoral College was created for two main reasons:  First to ensure that knowledgeable men would wisely choose the President, and second to ensure that the smaller states would not have more proportionate power than the states with large populations  (a minimum of three Electors gives a disproportionate number of Elector votes to, for example, Wyoming over Texas).

Arguments Against the Electoral College

Those who object to the Electoral College system and favor a direct popular election of the president generally do so on four grounds:

  • the possibility of electing a minority president - a voting minority, not a racial minority! (my edit)
  • the risk of so-called "faithless" Electors,
  • the possible role of the Electoral College in depressing voter turnout, and
  • its failure to accurately reflect the national popular will.
Arguments for the Electoral College

Proponents of the Electoral College system normally defend it on the philosophical grounds that it:

  • contributes to the cohesiveness of the country by requiring a distribution of popular support to be elected president
  • enhances the status of minority interests,
  • contributes to the political stability of the nation by encouraging a two-party system, and
  • maintains a federal system of government and representation

Thanks for reading.  Now go vote, if you haven't already.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

On doing things out of character

One night, in the fall of (I think) 1982, I was at a Knoxville bar, sitting in the back with a friend.  Coincidentally, the regular singer from the hotel bar I worked at (a different bar) had a gig there that week.  When he saw us, his eyes lit up and he excitedly moved the seats around so that we could sit in the very front, as his guests. We were a little embarrassed about the special treatment, and covered it up by joking around, poking fun at the guy.  He noticed and was hurt. We left soon after, ashamed and with our tails tucked between our legs. I felt rotten about it.  30 years later I still do. He wouldn't talk to us, and as a matter of fact, I've never spoken to him since.  It was a horrible, mean thing to do to someone.  I'm not a mean person. I'm an ok guy. I generally like myself. As a matter of fact, like Terrell Owens,  I love me some me (ok, maybe not to that extreme!)

My point is that it was something totally out of character for me. In being mean to that guy, I betrayed something inside of myself.  Part of my core belief system.  The betrayal to myself was almost worse than the hurt I inflicted on this guy, who was just so happy that people he knew had come down to see him!

Have you ever done something completely out of character and hurt someone? I tell you, it comes back and haunts you.

So, to anyone I've hurt - from the guy from the Sheraton Campus Inn in 1982, in Knoxville, Tennessee - and to anyone else, I apologize.

I'll keep working on being an Alright Guy

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sarah Palin - Brilliant?!?

Please bear with me on this post.  My point is not the obvious one, but one I'll get to before too long:

(Also, I don't care about your politics, and I promise, you don't know mine - even if you think you do.)

So, today Sarah Palin said “President Obama’s shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end.The term "Shuck and Jive" is a racial pejorative. I won't argue with anyone who disputes that - it is. It just is.

On Twitter, I called her out by saying "wow, Mrs. Palin. Racist much?"

(BTW, my Twitter handle is @Harper_Ian - why aren't you following me?)

A couple of her followers responded to me quite quickly - one even followed me and then unfollowed me after realizing her mistake (presumably after reading my comment to Mrs. Palin)!

Ok - now we are getting to my point:  One of her followers tweeted me and (presumably with a straight face) said, "Sarah Palin is brilliant."

Palin on her insight into Russian Politics

So, you may vote Republican this election cycle, and good for you.  You may vote Democratic this election cycle, and good for you.  You may even vote Libertarian, as the Chattanooga Times Free Press advises.

And, finally, here is my point:  Sarah Palin is not brilliant.

Monday, October 22, 2012

4 bridges 1/2 marathon

The past year or so has been personally horrible for me. I mean it's really stunk. On par with 1992 for Queen Elizabeth
Personal malaise has ensued.
One of the things that has suffered this year has been my level of fitness.  For the past decade I've been a pretty avid, if not particularly good, runner. I barely ran at all in 2012 (through about mid August), and gained 10 or so pounds.  The last time I ran a race was in November of last year.
So, on to October of 2012.  I had been doing sporadic and unfocused running (a 10 miler one week followed by a 2 miler, then nothing for another week, for example), and had registered for a couple of fall races - the first was this past Sunday's 4 Bridges Half-Marathon in Chattanooga. I came very close over the last week or so to bailing on the race, as I was very much undertrained.  Ultimately though, I decided that I had to start back somewhere and so I toed the line.

I won't bore you with the details.  It was pretty ugly.  Not Mayan calendar ugly, but ugly nonetheless. I did beat my publicly stated, "I'll be lucky to break this time", goal, but not by very much.

BUT, the most important thing is that I "ran" the race, collected the medal and remembered why I enjoy running races so much. I'm not competitive, but I do enjoy the competition - if that makes sense. I also have a new, slow, benchmark to start with.

On to the future.  I am registered for the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon on November 10 (the site of my first marathon), but I will probably drop down to the half-marathon as there is no way I would be in shape to not embarrass myself.

And then big things for 2013.  Stay tuned.  I know you can't wait.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Bear with me as I tell (rant) my story:


Today I went to a government agency as part of my work (I'm a CPA and the government agency goes by a three letter acronym, so you figure it out)..


I've being going to this office, working with these people about once a week over the last 15 or so years.  I call them by name, they call me by name. Part of the protocol is that they tell me their name and I give them my drivers license - to establish identity.  A typical exchange might be "Hello Sharon, how are you?  Fine, Ian - How was the drive from Cleveland?"  Today, the security guard even joked "I thought you were an employee, as much as you've been in here lately?" We all chortled merrily.


Fast forward 5 minutes:  I'm at Sharon's  employee X's desk, and, as per usual (after saying "hello, Ian"), she says "My name is Sharon  employee X, my ID number is on my badge, how can I help you?" I say, "I left my wallet with my drivers license in my jacket pocket, hanging on the door in my office." Her response?  "Well, what are we going to do about that?"  Yep - she was not willing to help me, because I had left my license back in Cleveland (The IRS unnamed government agency is in Chattanooga, 30 miles away). She wound up calling her manager (who also knows me).  "Hello, Ian, it's a rule that you show your ID -  TO ESTABLISH YOUR IDENTITY!!" (caps and exclamation marks are mine).


To make an interminably long story mercifully shorter, they made me recite all of my id numbers, phone number and address before they would talk to me - oh, I was told that a business card would be acceptable!!


Look, I'm not trying to unduly criticize this agency.  Instead, I'm just marveling at the "follow rules blindly, ask no questions" mentality that some people have.  I like these people, they are typically quite helpful, but doggone it, that is just ridiculous, don't you think?


Point is: The rule to show ID is to establish identity. I have long established my identity with everyone in the Chattanooga office. Asking me for a drivers license did not establish identity (I assume that if a clone came in who looked like me, he would ALSO LOOK LIKE THE PICTURE ON MY LICENSE).


Thanks for reading.  Carry your papers.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Do the debates serve any purpose?

I won't be watching the debates - I'll let someone from the news (or Jon Stewart) tell me what was said.  Personally, I've never heard anything substantive come out of a presidential debate.  To me, they are just opportunities for one candidate to make a strategically placed quip at the other candidate's expense.  Meanwhile (it seems to me), the television and studio audiences are sitting back, waiting with baited breath, for someone to make a mistake, get a fact wrong, or forget something.

Is this how we would expect our President to govern? Is real diplomacy conducted under studio lights, and in sound bites? Or, as I believe, are solutions hammered out in meeting rooms, over time and with painstaking detail?

It is said that races have been won and lost during debates (remember Nixon's sweaty upper lip?).  Not everyone agrees: Mike Donning of Bloomberg News, for instance.

Regardless - to me, political debates are uncomfortable, mean spirited wastes of time.  I'll just let someone else tell me what happened.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Network news is still relevant/Don't confuse News with opinion

The main reason that the three traditional network news programs are still relevant to me is that they have a half hour to present the stories, whereas the cable networks with their all "news" channels are faced with filling 24 hours of ratings driven content.  To me, this means that those networks (and I include MSNBC in this category), by necessity, blur the lines between news and opinion.



Call me naive, but people like Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow are probably spinning in their graves when they see what has happened to their profession (yes, I know that O'Reilly isn't a news anchor. If you want, I could put in pictures of Keith Obermann or Megyn Kelly).
Restating my point, the cable networks are massively blurring the lines between objective news reporting and I think that too many people are not understanding the difference. Here is a small primer:
Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade of Fox News are primarily personalities and commentators.
Likewise for Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz of MSNBC.
I do believe that Shepard Smith of FOX and Chuck Todd of MSNBC do strive to be at least somewhat objective, from what I've seen.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Getting back into shape

I've been a human blob this whole year - in all aspects:

In the 10 months since my last marathon, I've gained about 11 pounds and my longest run has been 8 miles (last night). Lost my mojo - this is a bad thing considering that I didn't start out with much mojo in the first place.  I started trying to get back into shape about a month ago, and am happy to say that I've lost 5 of those pounds - starting to feel better physically and am getting out of the funk that I've been in all year.

I HAVE GOALS!!! More on that another time.