Friday, October 31, 2008

The Holiday

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend an estimated 5.77 Billion Dollars on Halloween this year.

A sure sign of overall economic decline.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Small Matter

We work hard to teach our children to be cognizant of and respectful towards others. Even strangers. Even in crowds and in public. I have discovered that not everyone values this. We have recently faced some annoyances, albeit minor ones, but I think they illustrate my discovery.

- For instance, at the grocery, while looking at some eggs, another woman who was also looking at eggs to make sure they were not broken set the broken ones right in front of us, as if we were not even there.

We try hard while in a public setting not to jostle, throw things on or at and not let our kids do so. Or at least have the decency to apologize when such accidents do occur.

- At a recent outdoor show, the people behind us kicked, bumped and shoved with complete oblivion.

- At another, the children behind us kicked, bumped, shoved, ran around and spilled their drinks on us. Once again, with seemingly complete oblivion that we were there.

No, I know that we are not any more invisible than anyone else. I think this sort of behavior reflects a total disregard for the fact that their are other people in the universe.

What can be done to help people understand that their are other people in the world and it really doesn't help any of us when we selfishly disregard them, even in small ways? How can we reinforce in our children that people, even those we don't know, are worthy of respect and deserve our politeness, even when so many others seem so rude?

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Endorsement

As promised, here is my presidential pick for this election and some of the reasons why:

John McCain

Here is a brief overview of the top reasons why I am picking McCain.

Life Issues
John McCain has a record of defending a pro-life position. Obama has a record of defending a pro-choice position. As someone who believes in the sanctity of life and all that, I do not feel that I can, in good conscience, vote for someone who who continue to promote the idea of abortion as a convenience.

The President may be in the position to appoint up to four supreme court justices. I believe that John McCain will appoint justices who believe that we should not kill the unborn out of convenience. Obama will not.

National Defense
John McCain realizes that, in this age of increasing global terrorism and unrest, a strong military is vital to protect our country and to ensure our ability to provide aid and protection to other countries, promoting peace in the world. Obama will not.

Economic Issues
John McCain is in favor of seeing businesses grow creating more jobs and increasing our prosperity and will work to promote policies that do just that. Obama is in favor of promoting Socialism in our economy and county.

I recently had a discussion with someone about Karl Marx. I stated that I didn't believe that his intentions were evil. I think he genuinely thought that his ideas of government would promote equality and peace. However, these ideas has been shown throughout the 20th Century to destroy wealth, rather than redistribute it and they lead to violent discontent, increased government bureaucracy, and a gross lack of freedom.

I am simply not in favor of government deciding who has too much money and who doesn't have enough and then deciding who gets what. The whole philosophy of Socialism comes from a lack of understanding about where wealth comes from, how it increases and decreases and why our nation has been so prosperous for so long.

John McCain will promote economic prosperity, while Barack Obama will promote Marxist ideology.

These are the primary three issues for me, with Life Issues having primacy.

I am also concerned about these issues:
Enviromental Concerns- I do not think either candidate or party is not concerned about this.
Energy Issues - we are much too dependent on foreign oil for our energy. John McCain has sensible energy plans to increase our independence in safe and desperately needed ways.
Personal Concerns - I am concerned about Barack Obama's affilition with Weatherman Terrorist Willian Ayers, his 20 years of attendance at Jeremiah Wright's weekly anti-American rallys and his deep affiliation with Acorn, that seems to have some very troubling practices.
Religious Freedom - Another issue that always concerns me when discussing politics. Once again, I hope that both candidates have a concern for this issue.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The First Five of the Last Mimzy

Ever walked out of a movie theater in the middle of a movie?

I have recently turned off a couple of movies because of their offensive nature. I don't get offended easily. I work around a bunch of guys that swear like sailors. In fact, the guy I am usually partnered up with used to be a sailor. It doesn't bother me that he and they swear.

I am more offended by the cultural forces that have made this sort of behavior and speech perfectly normal. The Hollywood movie producers, for instance, who seem to think that it is perfectly normal to swear like sailors and have the morals of a drunken whore.

William Wilberforce, the man who almost championed abolition in Great Britain said "God Almighty has placed before me two great objects: the suppression of the Slave Trade and the Reformation of Manners (morals)." I find it interesting that he placed the reformation of manners and morals on par with the suppression of the slave trade.

The being said, the only movie I ever walked out on, that I can recall, was The Last Mimzy. It was just boring and stupid. After the first five minutes I was ready to go. I waited another five to see if it got any better. It did not. I then waited another five before I brought it up to Diane, who was thinking the same thing.

Turns out that, like many in our culture, I am more likely to be offended by being bored that by being cussed out.

Coming Soon!

As I mentioned, I will blog about who I plan on endorsing for president. Since Colin Powell made his choice known, I will do the same on Monday. I will also include a few reasons why I am making the choice I am.

As I said, Who my choice is will come as no surprise to many of you and little surprise to the rest.

Here is something that does not affect my decision.

The "Race" issue.

I have heard of people that plan on voting for Obama because of his race. Many "African- Americans" have reportedly said they are voting for him because he is black...or half black....and it is time to have a half-black president.

This is perhaps the most foolish thing I have heard of yet. If someone is truly making voting decisions based on race then they are either idiots or racists (which, in my opinion, is synonymous with idiots).

Likewise, I am sure their are pockets of white supremacists here and there that have discounted Obama out of hand simply because of his racial mixture. See the previous paragraph for my thoughts on them.

So, check in again.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Club your Friends

Our Daughter Emily is working on starting a writing club. So, on Wednesday, she and her sister sat with five friends in the back room of the local library and worked on stories.

They say that perfect practice makes perfect, which is true. If you continually practice something, but do it in a wrong manner, your actually reinforcing your mistakes, rather than improving your skills. When I read Emily and her friends stories, I find plenty of spelling, punctuation, grammer, syntax and thematic errors. I am tempted to think that they might just be making themselves worse.

Writing, however, is a bit different. The most important skill is creativity. The other things are merely tools to convey your creativity in a coherent manner. If someone continues to trigger their creativity, writing becomes more and more natural, regardless of the correctable errors in the tools.

Here is one of my favorites of hers so far:

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

To have a world of your own. . .

Is to use imagination.

Is to feel magic.

Is to have a place that is
Yours to keep.

To ride with dragons,

To dance with Faeries,

To sing with birds,

To hear the music and feel the kiss of
The Wind, Rain, Flower,
And Star.
A world of your own,
Is to make up new;

To laugh with the sea,
That is what having a world of your
Own is.

And here is her blog.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I had to do it....we came up with it with the help of Agent and Mrs. Pipes

SPINGA is a game that no fun-loving household should have. Behind its seemingly simple exterior there’s a surprisingly stupid game in which not much happens at all. SPIN_GA is an ideal way to waste quality time with family or friends.

Much like other block stacking games, you play by removing blocks from lower levels and placing them on top. But, it has a twist....literally. While you are doing this, the whole game spins around on a lazy Susan type support structure. Wow! A game that is almost exactly like Jenga, but it spins! It's SPENGA!

Listen to what actual players have said about SPIN-GA:

"This game is p***ing me off!"

"Whose stupid idea was this, anyways?"

"Can we do something else now?"

Yes, you and your friends will be sorry you ever got together for game night when you try SPIN_GA. So gather your friends or family and get ready for some real "edge-of-your-seat" fun!

For best results, play while drunk.

Also coming soon from SpinBro games:
SPINABLE - Make words from different letters on a spinning board.
SPOKER - Bet your friends real money that your cards are better than theirs, while the deck spins around!!!
And for Kids:

SPINBRO ... We make games a little dumber

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Crime Spree

I recently heard Ethan Orr (Executive Director For Linkages, here in Tucson) point out the following:
Statistically, most crime is committed by a certain demographic, the 16-24 year old male group.

Local Law Enforcement officials have touted a drop in crime over the past few years. This drop in crime also happens to coincide with a drop in males age 16-24 in our community.

In the next several years, there will be a spike in males age 16-24. Will crime spike as well?

Our Sheriff has pointed out how much lower the crime rate is in the unincorporated areas of the County than it is in the City. While I appreciate the efforts of all the Deputies, I wonder if the demographics reflect a lower rate of males age 16-24 in the County than in the City limits.

Expelled on Video Now

Friday, October 17, 2008

Now you can see the video

I emailed KVOA and they put the video up for the thing about our unit. It looks like you can't embed it, so follow the link and click on the video. It makes us look cool. You can also listen to the 911 call.

Here is the link.

My Dad would have liked this place

We took the Drive (about a two hour one) to Ft. Bowie yesterday. It is 1.5 mile hike to the fort from the trail head, so it was a good start of the hiking season for our crew.

Along the way, there are signposts and sites for some of the history that occurred here, including:
the spot where Cochise was captured by and escaped from U.S. troops and the Bascom Affair begun, a Butterfield Stage post, an old miner's cabin, the post cemetery, which, among others, holds the remains of medal of honor winner O.O. Spence, a mock-up of an Apache wikiup, info about the doings of Geronimo in the area, and Apache Springs where California troopers on the way to New Mexico during the Civil War were attacked by Apaches.

We also saw and held a couple of Great Horned Lizard, one of which is blurrily pictured above, saw a dead snake and plenty of wasps, bees and grasshoppers.

But, what everyone, myself included, probably enjoyed the most was blowing the bugle at the visitor center.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Another news article

Well, it was supposed to have video, since it was a tv broadcast, but it doesn't. Click on the picture for the latest news item about our unit.

(the picture is the one from the KVOA website. It shows a couple of our guys at the range.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Abandon All Hope......

I have recently been studying Dante's Inferno. I previously had what I think are fairly common stereotypes of the work. I thought it was primarily weird images of where different types of sinners spent their time in hell, according to Dante's ideas of justice and punishment. I found something a bit more interesting and engaging.

Dante's journey is an allegory of what unrepentant sin does to a person, to society in general and to the universal Church. He draws heavily on characters from his own time, biblical references and mythological stories, all things people of his time (circa 1300) were familiar with.

Even tho some of the character references are dated, it is easy to recognize their flaws in our own lives. One thing that struck me was the fact that most all of the people in hell passed off responsibility for whatever they had done wrong. It was always the fault of circumstances, other people or other outside influences that they behaved the way they did. A very contemporary problem.

But, for those that do want to see the weird ideas of who is in which level of hell and why, here is a flash site with an overview of each level.

And here is a new movie about the story.

Monday, October 13, 2008

With an Eye to the Future

And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. - Zechariah 14:16

Yesterday, we had our lunch under the Sukkah(pronunciation is like soo-kuh, not sucka, as in "I'm gonna get you sucka"). A Sukkah is a temporary shelter that was used during the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot. Sukkot is the holiday that God instructed the Israelites to observe to remember the forty years of wandering in the desert after Moses led them out of Egypt.

Sukkot reminds us of both God's provision during the wandering and how man's sinfulness led to the wandering in the first place. According to Zechariah, all the nations that opposed Israel will celebrate this holiday every year in the future.

So it doesn't start until Tuesday, but at the new building they put one up this weekend so everyone could share a meal in the sukkah, since most have jobs and such during the week.

We also built a sukkah for our tortoise. Well, a den, kind of like a hobbit hole. Apparently, they need one to hibernate in the winter.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another Mistake

Here is a mistake I made and a lesson learned:

When we first started having small groups at our church, Joe (not his real name), took over one of the groups. He was a great guy, committed to the cause, great with people, willing to listen and loved by most everyone.

At one of our leader's meetings, I pointed out a mistake that he had made. Whatever he had done, it really wasn't that big of a deal, it was something that anyone might do. So, I reasoned, all the leaders would benefit from hearing about what had happened and not do it themselves. Unfortunately, I hadn't checked with him about this before I brought it up.

Soon after that, Joe decided that he didn't want to lead a group anymore. He told me that his busy life and such things were interfering with his leading the group. But, I am quite certain that he was embarrassed and deflated by my "public" revelation of his mis-steps.

We missed out on having a great guy lead some of our people and he missed out on the great things that come your way from having a role like this all because I had yet learned the following lesson.

The lesson I learned:

Point out people's mistakes in private ..... if you want to say something about someone in public, make it praise and compliments.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Solar Powered Pizza

Solar power is far from the answer to our collective energy needs. But, apparently in can be usefull and profitable for some businesses.

A favorite pizza place for our family is the Brooklyn Pizza Company. The pizza is tasty New York Style...the thin crust can watch the daring young men fling the crusts through the air and it is on 4th avenue, so I can carry on the tradition that my Dad taught me of watching the people that are more interesting that you might see elsewhere.

They have recently bought into solar power with the Technicians for Sustainability renewable energy people. According to the company, they can recoup about 75% of the costs in tax credits and energy rebates and significantly lower the regular energy costs. Beyond this, I think it is smart for their business because it helps foster it's hip, caring, we're-concerned-about- the-environment and renewable energy vibe that will cater to the clientèle that frequent the place.

As I mentioned, Solar Energy is not "THE" answer. It is not cost effective for residences, and it has limited output. But, it looks like a local company has figured out how to make it work for some local businesses. More "power" to them.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Look at them beans

Ok, Look at them beans is an old gospel song by Johnny Cash. You don't really have to listen to it.

I have recently rediscovered that I enjoy cooking. Does this seem less than manly?

I figured it out. I like being creative and I like making something that nourishes and brings something that others enjoy. Must be the old preacher in me.

Today I am working on beans. I made some fajita style barbeque pork tacos the other night.

Diane says that she finds my cooking very manly. So, if you have a favorite recipe or two, be sure to send it my way.

Here is something to see

A SHORT LOVE STORY IN STOP MOTION from Carlos Lascano on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Weekend

In the spirit of letting family and friends in on what we have been doing, a motivation for this blog, here is what we were up to over the weekend:

Friday Diane and I had a date together whilst the kids were at Grandma and Grandpa Russell's,

Friday night we all went to the cheap circus. Now our kids can say that we took them to the circus when they were children and we never have to take them again.

I went to watch the U of A trounce the team from Washington on Saturday. A friend got some tickets from work in the end zone section. Good fun, but, unfortunately, the Wildcats (U of A) kept the ball at the other end zone for most of the game. David Hasselhoff was there. Apparently his daughter goes to the U of A. This proves, once again, that Germans love David Hasselhoff.

On Sunday we went to a party celebrating the adoption of 4 children by some friends of ours. That is what the pics are from. I put a few more of them on Facebook, if you have that sort of thing. Then, it was back to work for me.

My Mom also moved to a new place this weekend. Unfortunately, we were unable to be in the area to help with the move. If you would, remember her in your prayers.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Three Tomes I Am Taking In

As I mentioned before, I try not to write a review of all the books I read. Not because I don't like to show off, but I figured most people wouldn't care about most of them. But, from time to time, I read through a few that I think might be of interest to you. With that in mind, here are a few I am working on now.

I have posted before about my experiences and some of my thoughts about the upcoming apocalypse here and here. So, I found "Have a Nice Doomsday" subtitled "Why millions of Americans are looking forward to the end of the world". It is a non-christian scholars venture into the U.S.'s unique prophecy, doomsday, rapture, etc. culture. It has a couple of interesting chapters on the history of this sort of thought, one focusing on America's history of this thought, including date setting and trend setting leaders. Most of the book focuses on interviews with leading "experts" on modern prophecy studies: John Hagee, Randall Price, Tim Lahaye. It is surprisingly un-hostile as it profiles the thoughts and ideas of of the obsession with end times.

Radical Leap is a fun business parable...sort of ala Who Stole My cheese or One Minute Managee. The author is the former VP of The Tom Peters Company, a well known and respected business guru and the LEAP acronym is part of the new Peters mantra (cultivate Love, generate Energy, inspire Audacity, and provide Proof). These types of books are usually too cheesy for me and I have trouble getting through them. This one was actually kind of fun to read, even though it still has it's share of cheese. The LEAP acronym can work for helping understand how people lead and why people follow those leaders.

FDR's Folly is one that I haven't started yet. I have heard it opined that the NEw Deal policies of FDR's administration prolonged the economic troubles of the time, but haven't read anything on it yet.

One reviewer says of the book, "Powell draws "lessons" from the New Deal's recovery failures, arguing that an understanding of them should help current and future policy makers to avoid burdensome and "soak-the-rich" taxes, public-sector "jobs" programs that inevitably turn into vote buying, laws that prevent needed price and wage adjustments, measures restricting freedom of trade, and monetary authorities with undue discretionary powers."

It sounds timely and relevant, although a sacrilege to those who are fans of Roosevelt. Should be interesting.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Some things you just shouldn't have to tell people, but tell them anyway

My friend, who is a fan of this blog too, told me this story.

He went to visit a new Church where one of the guys leading music was new to the Church thing. He was quite excited about his new found faith and was exuberantly jumping around and praising the Lord. This was a casual, come as you are sort of service so he was dressed down, wearing sweat pants and a tee-shirt. Unfortunately, it was also quite obvious that he didn't wear any undershorts either.

So, take this as a management principle: Some things you just should not have to tell people, but go ahead and tell them anyway.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Johnny Says....

A question for leaders and people with customer oriented businesses from John Maxwell:

"Are you building people or building your dream and using people to do it?"

If you are building people, they will help you build your dreams. If your using people, they will figure it out and not really care about your dreams.

This question struck me because it is so easy to see people as a necessary tool in building what you want, and not the goal of what you are doing in and of themselves.

I like this one

Check out the "international humor" on the nicholeopolis blog. Her and her mano are friends from the Sacramento area and, on a side note, her husband is Canadian.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I just saw that Arizona is getting $1 million from the federal govt to do a study about a passenger railway between Tucson and Phoenix. The hope is that a matching $1 million could be provided by the state. Yes, there are already tracks between Tucson and Phoenix, but officials are unsure that the existing track, which is a UP track, could be used.

I think I could do that study for them. For a million wait, I would do it for half that....I, would talk to UP and see if the existing track could be used. If not, I would see about how much it would cost to build another. They already have an estimate of $600 million. So, instead of just using that figure, I would try to reconfirm the estimate. I'd even get Diane and the kids to help.

$500,000. That would be a bargain.

On another related note, why do they not lay two tracks when they build railroad tracks? It would cut down on trains running into each other and would make it easier for the train dispatchers. They probably don't have the money. Especially after all the million dollar studies they run.

The District Superintendent of the Church Denomination in Sacramento told our Church that Diane had a "million dollar smile". That ought to qualify us to do a million dollar study.

Here is the article from the local paper.