Archive for November, 2010

Having a stuffed coyote mounted hanging from your tailgate is not required in Alabama. It's only strongly encouraged!

  • Traditional 4-way stop rules do not apply.  You may proceed immediately after the car in front of you enters into the intersection, regardless of whether or not there may be other drivers waiting at the other stops.  In fact, stopping at all is merely a suggestion.
  • Yellow lights do not mean to stop unless it is unsafe to do so.  This light actually indicates that you should hit the gas.  A red light indicates that up to three more vehicles can proceed through the intersection.  Therefore, a green light means that you should yield to up to three vehicles that are going through the red light (and there WILL be vehicles going through the red light, without fail!)
  • If a traffic light at an intersection happens to go out, 4-way stop rules (even the non-traditional Alabama 4-way stop rules) do not apply.  Instead it’s just an absolute free-for-all!  That’s right, it is every man and woman for themselves!  Proceed in an orderly fashion?  Rubbish!  Oh wait, this is Birmingham, Alabama; not Birmingham, England.  I meant hogwash!
  • With a shortage of Alabama state troopers, speed limits on the highways and interstates should be considered lower limits.  After all, we here in Alabama love our Nascar!  But why just watch our favorite drivers when we can drive like our favorite drivers!  Boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racing boys (and girls)!
  • The laws of physics do not apply to Alabama vehicles.  You can therefore drive just as fast and close to other drivers in rain as in dry weather.  Traction?  What’s that?  Something new from John Deere?
  • If you come across an accident, it is very important that you slow down and take it all in, regardless of which direction you may be traveling.  In fact, go ahead and gawk.  Take in all the details.  Apparently there will be a quiz later and you don’t want to miss ANYTHING!  That’s why I was perfectly understanding when my Thanksgiving NORTHBOUND trip took an hour longer than it should because of an accident occurring in the SOUTHBOUND lanes!  It’s Alabama.  But oddly, I still haven’t received my quiz yet.

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I think Saturday Night Live pretty much nailed it with this skit:

There is talk about a boycott of the “enhanced” security measures tomorrow, but I tend to doubt there will be much to it.  Attempts to organize boycotts on the internet are usually not very successful.  And in this case, I think that while travelers may not be particularly pleased with the situation, they are going to more interested in just getting it over with than causing a disruption.

That said, I really think airport security continues to be about kabuki theater, designed to create the illusion of increased security than it is to create actual increased security.  It really bugs me that the system is set up with a baseline assumption that everyone is a terrorist, with the goal of proving that you are not so you can get on the airplane.  Any system that assumes you are guilty is not a very good one in my book.

To be fair to TSA, they have pretty much been tasked with the goal of making air travel 100% secure from terrorist risk.  That’s an impossible task.  And any serious attempt to achieve that goal can only lead to more draconian policies.  I have seen some experts putting the risk from dying from increased radiation from the new scanners as about the same as dying from a terrorist task.  That’s not to say that the scanners are really risky, but just how little risk terrorists present.  So really this is just a continued overreaction stemming from the 9/11 attacks.

Apparently these procedures are a result from the would-be underwear bomber.  Man, what if the next guy takes it to next level?

Yikes!

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  • Put a few decorations along a stretch of road.  Charge $10 per car, $25 per van, and $50 per motorcoach.  Watch the money roll in.

Only 12 days of Christmas? Every day is Christmas raking in this kind of dough!

  • Branson is popular with old people.  Veterans tend to be old people.  Therefore Veterans Day is popular in Branson.  The transitive property at work!

I've never seen so many white-haired people at a non-nursing home location in my life!

  • 4 million Christmas lights at a theme park is really neat.

An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City

An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City

An Old Time Christmas at Silver Dollar City

  • A performing Christmas tree, also cool.
  • And Silver Dollar City’s production of Dicken’s Christmas Carol is awesome!

They didn't allow pictures to be taken, so you are going to have to settle for Scrooge McDuck!

  • Cajun Christmas music?  Not so much.

The Cajun Connection. Turns out I don't like my Christmas music "spicy".

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The New York Times has created an interactive tool that you can play with to “balance the budget”:

Budget Puzzle: You Fix The Budget

The tool has pre-packaged options of both cutting spending and increasing revenue, and as you make your choices it shows how much of the deficit you have eliminated until you eliminate it all (assuming a static environment).  I think it does an excellent job of demonstrating the difficulty* of the problem (and how much more difficult the problem is to solve if you choose to focus only on spending or only on revenues).  While it would be really nice if we could just eliminate earmarks or pass medical malpractice reform or, if conservative bloggers are to be believed, eliminate trips by Obama that somehow exceed the daily cost of fighting a war (hint: conservative bloggers are not to be believed, see also: Fox News) that the deficit would just completely go away, that’s just not the reality of the situation.  It’s going to take a whole heck of a lot of spending cuts AND a heck of lot of revenue increases to realistically have any chance of balancing the budget.

The chairs of Obama’s debt commission, Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson, recently released their own plan for balancing the budget and ultimately eliminating the debt.  While I don’t care for all of their ideas (For example, I don’t care much for the idea of raising the retirement age for social security on the sole rationale of longer life expectancy.  Just because you may live longer does not automatically mean that you have the ability to work at an older age.  Also, even if you can work at an advanced age, it doesn’t necessarily mean employers will want to hire you.), I do think some of their ideas to merit consideration.  The ideas of eliminating a good many tax deductions while also reducing the tax rate, and taxing capital gains and dividends as ordinary income are very interesting.

Let’s remember that the results from this commission are simply recommendations.  It’s a starting point.  It’s not binding, so there is no need to freak out over it.  If nothing else, at least the subject of balancing the budget is being broached.  And hopefully these discussions will demonstrate once and for all that this ain’t going to easy folks.

*I think it does a good job of demonstrating how difficult the problem is because you can’t simply select one or two things and be done.  But yes, critics are right, it’s a simplification of the issue at hand.  No, you can’t just give this tool to Congress and have the problem be solved.  I also don’t think the New York Times was trying to say that eliminating the deficit is as easy as clicking a few boxes in what is effectively a puzzle game.  Some people in the media are really anal.  Sheesh!

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Now that I have run a race that wasn’t the most organized in the world (by which I mean pretty much not organized at all), I have a greater appreciation for races that are well-organized.  The Vulcan Run 10k held a couple of weeks ago in Birmingham is such a race.  Great organization, plenty of volunteers, plenty of water and sports drinks on the course, traffic control provided by friendly and encouraging policemen, an actual post-race party, etc.

What a great day to run a race!  A little chilly for sure, but once you get going it’s not so bad.  This is the second time I have done this race, so it didn’t have the new factor it did the last time.  Still, it’s a beautiful course and with around 1400 participants, it’s a lot of fun.  I completed the run in around an hour, a little slower than last year but about where I expected to finish (now that I’ve completed a half, it’s time to turn my focus back on getting my speed better!).  Lael completed the run even faster (I believe she recorded her personal best for this distance).  And another coworker of mine completed his first 10k race, and is now ready to take on the challenge of the half-marathon, which I think is awesome!  Like I said, a lot of fun!

The challenge over the holidays is going to be to keep up with enough of a training schedule to be prepared to run the Mercedes half in February.  We are running a 10 mile race in early January which will serve as an excellent tune-up (and will be a good test of our preparation up to that point).  It’s not going to be easy, but I’m looking forward to it!

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Looking at my blog stats, it looks like there is a lot of interest in the latest ad from Sarah Palin’s PAC.  Well here you go:

Until now, you were getting my post about the “Mama Grizzlies” ad (New Sarah Palin Commercial – A Game Changer?).  But I don’t have anything different to say about this one.  It’s pretty much the same ad, just with the people that won Tuesday (that Sarah supported) spliced into the visuals.  Still no substance.  Just blah blah blah…I have faith in America (American exceptionalism….check)….blah blah blah…..this is our morning in America (Reagan reference…check)….blah blah blah….going rogue (Palin catchphrase….check)….blah blah blah….growling grizzly (growling grizzly….check).

Looks like a whole bunch of nothing to me.  But I’m sure I’ll see some pundit soon explaining how Sarah just took another step toward crushing the competition in 2012, even though the vast majority of Americans do not believe she is qualified to be President.

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Yeah, that doesn’t look that bad.  Here are the keys back!

Actually, all joking aside, the Democrats did plenty to bring this on themselves.  And in a two-party system, to hold one political party accountable, you have to turn to the other political party.  Even if that is the very same party you rejected just two years before.  Really, I’m not sure I would have a problem with flip-flopping control every couple of years until one party demonstrates some ability to get it right.

Also, Christine O’Donnell lost.  For that matter, so did Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, and Sharron Angle.  Not a good night for the “mama grizzlies”.  Not a great night for papa grizzlies either (that late endorsement Tom Tancredo sure didn’t accomplish anything and even in Alaska, where you would think a Palin endorsement would actually have some value, Joe Miller looks like he is going to lose to a write-in candidate, albeit the incumbent).  Looks like a little less than 50% of  the Palin endorsed candidates won.  No better than a flip of a coin.  Though from what I read, Good Morning America thought that was impressive.  That’s just evidence that it is really the America media that is infatuated with Sarah Palin, not the American people.  I sometimes forget that!

Anyway, whether you like the results or hate the results, the good news is that we all get the opportunity to change things up again in two years if we so desire.

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