Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Friendly Skies

It was interesting that during my business trip to San Diego I sat in my hotel room Wednesday night and watched the A&E television show “Airline”.

I have traveled on airlines extensively throughout my life and I’m amazed at the patience that the airline industry has when it comes to customer service. Nowhere is the customer service envelope stretched so thin as it is at the counter of an airline company.

Part of the problem comes from a disconnect between the airline industry and those who do not fly frequently enough to know the proper etiquette when it comes to traveling by air. Some of it is just common sense, and stupidity.

Hopefully I can cover some things that might help you if you plan on flying in the near future and do not travel often.

Tips for flying, for non-frequent travelers

1) Arrive early for your flight. Get to the airport early and check-in for your flight. Airlines overbook their flights because people don’t always make their flight, so they do this to ensure they can get as full an aircraft as possible. Unfortunately, sometimes this means that if you arrive late, or even on time, and the flight is full, you will not get a seat if others have checked in before you.

On the show tonight a young boy almost missed the flight because his mom arrived too late to the airport. In another story a man flying out to propose to his girlfriend almost missed his flight for the same reason.

2) Do not drink before you fly. Airlines will not let you fly if you are noticeably intoxicated. During the show tonight a woman was going to fly out to get married in Cleveland. She apparently met her fiancé only a month before, and she was denied boarding due to being drunk. At one point she exclaimed that she was going to smoke a joint and get stoned while she was supposed to be getting sober enough to fly out by the last flight. What a catch she is. I wonder if her new husband realizes what a fine woman he has found.

3) Don’t lose your tickets. A man had lost his ticket and was supposed to be traveling with his daughter who was recently visiting from the Navy. The airline explained that they couldn’t allow him to fly without a ticket so he would have to purchase another one. They did tell him that he could get reimbursed for the ticket if he located it later.

4) Be an understanding passenger. In almost all cases on the show the passengers were belligerent and obnoxious. I don’t understand why passengers get rude when it is truly their fault when most of these things happen. They yell, scream, threaten to sue the airlines, and anything else you can think of when they are the idiots who caused the problem. This applies to any customer service situation whether it’s an airline ticket counter or a sales clerk at Sears.

I’m not sure what you think you will accomplish by causing a scene when you are in a public place. The father who lost his ticket was ranting nonstop about the airline when it was clearly his fault. All he succeeded in doing was to embarrass his daughter and make himself look like a jerk on television.

There are many other things you need to know when traveling by air these days. Don’t bring sharp objects such as scissors, knives, etc… with you. Bring your picture ID like your driver’s license. If you are unsure what you can take and what you cannot take, go to the airline website and I’m certain all of this type of information can be found there. If not, call the airline and ask.

If you’re planning on taking a trip by air in the near future I would encourage you to watch A&E’s show “Airline” just to get an idea of what not to do when flying to your destination. Allow some extra time to get to an important event like catching a cruise ship or getting married. Plan to stay overnight at your destination before the event so that if something goes wrong on the way you have some extra time padded in your schedule.

I applaud Southwest Airline for letting their operations be filmed, both the good and the bad. It shows that they are confident in the abilities of their personnel. This is a great show for not only its reality entertainment value, but for the ability to perhaps educate folks on what they may need to do to fly in the world today.

The next time you fly, or shop at Sears for that matter, remember to be polite, patient, and act like a civilized human being instead of some idiot that was just released from the loony bin. Those of us watching your out-of-control antics are not entertained, we’re not amused, and we’re certainly not impressed with your ability to swear and embarrass yourself and your family members.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Rolling Stones

Several weeks ago I found blood in my urine.

Yes, I know, it sounds disgusting, and I have no idea why I’m sharing this with you all, other then the fact that for some reason I feel the need to write all of the time. I write about other peoples personal lives, so why not share a little of mine?

Now I’m not a big fan of getting older. It seems that as time passes my body is falling apart regularly. For example, two years ago I had an operation for an umbilical hernia. One year ago I had the operation again because apparently the first one did not take. This time they placed a mesh of Gortex in me and I was assured that this would do the trick once and for all.

Well, once I return from my business trip I am scheduled to once again go under the knife to have the same area repaired one more time. This time they’re talking about a larger incision, and a larger piece of mesh to create a wider coverage area. Of course, I am once again being told that this would really fix the problem.

Always thinking, I asked the Doc if instead of a Gortex mesh, I could instead have Kevlar. After all, if a large portion of my stomach was going to be covered in material, why not make it a bullet-proof type?

What does this have to do with my urine? It seems when I went in to get my urine checked out they found my new ruptured hernia in the CT scan. On top of all of this they found something called prostatitis, which I guess is an infection of some sort in my prostate.

Have you ever begun working on your car, or sent it in for maintenance, and found a bunch of things wrong that you were not aware of? Many people think it’s just the mechanic trying to make money, but this is truly how these things are discovered. If your piece of equipment has not been checked out in a while, chances are, when you begin to notice problems, several others show up in the investigation.

This was the case with me. Apparently I had a variety of things going bad at the same time, and the prostatitis was just one more of those things.

The Doc I went to suspected a kidney stone was causing the blood in my urine, or possibly a bladder infection (which I believed turned out to be the prostatitis) because my urine sample showed the signs of the infection. Unfortunately, the review of the CT Scan showed no kidney stone evident.

I was treated for the bladder infection and sent on my way. I took antibiotics for 14 days hoping this would be the end of things.

One weekend I began having pain, which was due to my hernia, so I went to the Emergency Room where they ran some more tests, and the Doc there looked at my CT scan and didn’t see much other then the hernia. He said I still had some sort of infection that was showing up in my urine, and I mentioned that my normal Doc said if what he gave me didn’t work he was going to give me a stronger antibiotic.

The ER Doc agreed and sent me home with a stronger antibiotic.

The following weekend, after taking my antibiotics for five days, I began having pain when I urinated (aren’t you glad you’re reading this?). Since I was going on this business trip to San Diego, I could not wait to see my regular doctor, and I did not want to leave town if I was getting worse or had other complications. So it was back to the ER I went.

This time I saw another Doc and he was puzzled. My symptoms on where I was feeling the pain, and the blood in my urine, all seemed to point to a kidney stone, but the last CT scan I had showed negative.

He said the previous infection in my urine seemed to have cleared up from the prior week, which was at least some good news. This still didn’t explain my pain or the blood.

Off I went to get another CT scan so the Doc could compare the two. When the results came back he found what all the Docs suspected before. It was a 4mm kidney stone, and in the few weeks between the two scans it had moved from my kidneys to the top of my bladder.

This confused the ER Doc a little because he said I should be having a lot more pain then I was. He told me that many men would be in agonizing pain and feeling nauseous with only a 2mm stone and mine was twice that size!

He surmised I must have a higher then normal tolerance for pain, because he declared that this was a pain that was close to a woman giving birth. When I mentioned this to my wife she laughed and asked if a man told me that.

The funny thing is, the local pharmacist gave me the same line. Apparently the local medical community frequents the same message forums where this was discussed. It was kind of amusing that this was the canned answer for kidney stone pain.

I told the pharmacist what my wife had said and we both laughed because she was right. Nothing could be as painful as passing what is equivalent to a football through a small opening. The closest a guy will come to passing a football is downfield to one of his buddies on the weekend.

The ER Doc sent me on my way with a strong painkiller prescription in case I had trouble on my trip, and the advice to drink more water.

I’m happy to report that the pain has gone away, and I am on the road for the week in beautiful San Diego. I’m not sure if the stone has passed, or will during this trip, but I’m confident that all will be fine.

The only thing remaining is to schedule my surgical appointment for the hernia operation. Getting old is starting to cramp my lifestyle, which wasn’t that exciting in the first place!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Medival Career Guide Test

Nod to Emily's Craziness for this one. She has a nice looking blog check it out!

The Science Engineer
Enjoy your life as a....85!!!

Today, we give them $80,000 a year with a cool job title. However, this is back in the day, and in this age we call you a heretic and burn you at the stake. Sorry, guess mom and dad wont be proud after all...

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 42% on Talents
Link: The Medival Career Guide Test written by alexium on Ok Cupid

Monday, March 21, 2005

Killing Her Softly

This piece started off as a response to Dave Justus on his great blog site Justus For All, but turned into a full-on rant by yours truly.

Those of you who have read my words in the past know that I am all for freedom. One freedom I support is the right someone has to have a living will that says in a situation where they are brain-dead, or a vegetable, that they give their approval to “pull-the-plug”.

In the case of Terri Schiavo, this is not what has happened, but this is what the husband and judge want everyone to believe has occurred.

The argument that the law states that the husband, being her legal guardian, has the right to essentially kill his wife medically is outrageous.

Laws are man-made, which means they are far from perfect. As such, laws do not cover every single facet of every possibility that can occur. This case just smells wrong. You cannot argue that we should kill people just because their caretaker wants it that way.

The huge fact in this case, which you just mentioned, is that people should have a living will if they choose to be “unplugged” in cases such as this, but Terri had no such will. This case is being argued on what the husband thinks she might have said one day.

Regardless of that, Terri is far from being completely brain-dead or in a total vegetative state. The family was awarded a large sum of money because it would cost a lot to have her go through therapy to even attempt to see if she would be able to respond and become better in some form or another. The husband did not use the money for her, he used it for himself, and actually refused additional medical opinions and has banned her family from helping her.

What caring spouse would not only do this, but date and have two children with another woman while his wife still lives and all of this is going on. Sure I can understand his situation, but it further shows the devotion to his wife and her needs is even weaker still.

I agree that sometime lawmakers and the government overstep their bounds, but when there is an extreme injustice about to occur, I think it is heroic that the government has stepped in to slap this so-called judge and loving husband. If a law will put an innocent person to death, when they have people who are willing to care for them, then that law needs to be closely looked at.

I can’t stand idiots at work who claim that a regulation, or rule must be adhered to like it was written by Zeus himself, rather then using common sense to follow the intent of the rule, or in this case the law.

The intent of this law was not to allow someone a legal way to off an innocent person who is still loved and supported. Furthermore, this is not a case of us versus them like some right-to-life argument. Simply put, this is legally sanctioned murder, and it’s disgusting that there is even a legal loophole that allows it to happen.

For once I’m glad the government has stepped in and prevented this from happening, and I hope it embarrasses the hell out of the judge who made the ruling, and the rights for her husband are yanked and given over to her parents. If nothing else based on his infidelity to his wife their marriage should be annulled removing any burden on this poor slob from having to make such a difficult decision.

Terri Schiavo is not a vegetable, nor is she clinically brain-dead. She responds to certain stimuli, and seemingly knows when her family is there with her. On top of all of this she did not have a living will, which would be the foundation on which her husband could legally make this move.

As Americans we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Notice the first right? LIFE! Terri has the right to live, and no court, or pretend husband, should be able to remove that right from her.

You can also read my previous article, A Matter of Life and Death from June of 2004 when they tried this once before.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Conservative Robots

Boston Legal did it again this week; they brought up a subject that was controversial and interesting.

It seems the principle of a high school allows the kids to watch the news. This would be a great thing for kids to be able to watch the news and discuss the items that are in the news with their teachers. The problem was, that they could watch any news program but FOX news. He installed a little filter device to block the FOX news.

In court, the principle decided that the FOX news incited animosity among people the way they are pro-government. He claimed that it was his duty as a principle to keep such content from the students because it caused problems with kids of other nationalities.

This case was argued poorly by the principles side because how the heck can you win a case that has you essentially blocking one political view while allowing the other view free reign? The show attempted to make the conservative side out to be mindless robots following some United States government agenda. They all but called conservatives government puppets, as if conservative people could not think for themselves.

The side for the First Amendment correctly pointed out that these days the news shows are merely a commodity doing whatever they can to gain a following. During major news events all of the channels do an adequate job covering their own spin on the stories, but during a news lull they are all trying to do stories to attract an audience, news comes second.

The portrayal of conservatives as simpletons that are somehow brainwashed by the powerful United States government is ridiculous. I listen to all sides of a story and the conservative side, in most cases, hits the nail on the head. I’m not a member of the Republic Party, and will vote for a Democrat, Libertarian, or anyone who I think has the right answers for the right time. Let’s face it; John Kerry was not that man. The Democrats just hitched their wagon to the wrong horse and many know this, but can’t openly go against their party.

A student on the show seemed like he was some young Hitler youth, and in the end he told the lawyer, “Your government thanks you.” as if he were representing the United States government, or was some junior government operative. It was an extremely silly and almost science fiction feeling remark. There is no way in heck that that represents who conservatives are, but apparently the liberals think that’s how they act.

Liberals remind me of over-zealous religious folks. Everyone of them, to a person, I have spoke with and tried to discuss the issues with during the last election had no solid reason to want John Kerry other then he is not George Bush. This is why the Democratic Party scares me.

The people on the left are extreme in their stupidity. They regurgitate the falsehoods that the Democratic Party puts out without even bothering to research the facts for themselves. Anything that is mentioned as a negative to the conservative agenda must be true, and therefore rallied around like a school of sharks circling a bleeding fish.

I don’t care if you’re Republican, Democratic, or Libertarian. In the end, you need to make up your own mind and not blindly follow anyone, or any agenda. Notice I included Republicans in this as well. The day will come when a conservative nut-ball will attempt to gain the presidency, and on that day I will stand against them with hopefully all of you by my side. I just hope another political party can field a decent person as an alternative.

Hopefully we won’t see a day when dumb and dumber are our only choices. Perhaps that will be the election that the Libertarians make their run to gain notoriety as a third choice. The problem with voting Libertarian is that you tend to take the votes away from someone else in an effort to make a stand. This last election was way to serious to compromise George Bush’s chances by voting Libertarian, so my vote went to the Republicans this year.

Enough of this babbling for now, I believe I made my point.

Do not be afraid to be an American. Salute the flag, say the pledge, and sing the National Anthem loud and clear. Do not follow blindly, nor turn your back on this great country because you think the government is some silly conspiracy. If you think there are some wrong things being done in the country, learn the system and fight for what you think is right.

Trying to be subversive is not the answer, and will only lead to failure and you living in a cabin in the middle of the woods somewhere with teargas flying through your windows. Then how much good will you be to any of us?

Support the country, support the system, and fight for your freedoms. Join in the country as an informed citizen, not a rebel without a clue!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

New Tools

The one nice thing about a “honey do” list is that occasionally the new tasks require a trip to Home Depot for some new tools.

In the spirit of Tim, the Tool-Man, Taylor I always look at a new job to do at home with the excitement that I may get to purchase a new device to make the job go smoother.

During Halloween this year we had setup some fancy decorations on our front porch, and a 2x4 I had screwed into the side of the house had a stripped head on the screw so I could not remove it easily. So off I went to Home Depot and came home with a manual impact wrench (the type you bang on and it turns the screw while the banging of the hammer applies enough downward pressure to get a bite on the stripped head if it’s not too bad off). Of course I had to also purchase a saber saw just in case the impact wrench didn’t do the trick.

Luckily the impact wrench got the job done, but I now had a new Black & Decker saber saw that I could have on standby in case a job called for its use.

Now some folks scoff at the Black & Decker brand, but I have found that over the years for working around the house they have some great tools at decent prices. Sure there are heavier duty tools, but for my need Black & Decker fills the need nicely. We have Black & Decker drills, the saber saw, can opener, carving knife, edger, trimmer, and the list goes on. We didn’t get these all at once, but through the years there have been a lot of “honey do” lists.

This weekend it was time to start work on a dog run for our newly acquired puppies. We are the proud owners of a new West Highland Terrier and a Scottish Terrier. I don’t know what I was thinking getting two terriers after our last pig-headed mutt, but they sure are cute and we figure they’re tough enough to give back to the kids as good as they get.

The people who owned the house before us had built a shed and a little deck for a hot tub. The problem was they are both built up off the ground about six inches for the shed, and around a foot for the hot tub deck. Ordinarily not a big deal, unless you have two little puppies and that’s the side of the house where the new dog run is going to be built.

There was some latticework on the deck, but it was rotting from not only being somewhat covered by the dirt, but also because, well, it’s wood, and that’s what wood tends to do.

Since the puppies will be like little beavers for a while, I decided to buy some of the new fangled plastic type of lattice to replace the rotted wood. Since terriers are notorious diggers, I also opted to bury the lattice about a foot under ground so they would have to make a pretty good effort to get through it from the bottom. I’m still not sure how well it will hold up to their chewing, but we’ll see if a thin coating of pepper will place that on hold if it gets too bad.

The cool part about having the right tools for the right jobs is that it makes the job easier and safer. To support the lattice while I was working on it I bought some new folding steel sawhorses which are ten times better then these new black and yellow plastic pieces of garbage I bought last year. The problem with the plastic ones is that the little yellow pivoting tops tend to break off. After taking them back several times to have them replaced I finally gave up and now just have two broken top plastic sawhorses.

Now normally I would have had to cut the lattice with my circular saw, but I have used that dang saw for too many scary things that it really should not be used for, and I was glad that I now had my new saber saw that I had bought for the Halloween 2x4 incident of 2004.

The saber saw was the perfect tool for zipping through the lattice while maintaining some control of the 4’x8’ flopping plastic lattice. I had to place a few 2x4’s on the saw horses and then rest the lattice on those to help stabilize the sheet, and it worked great.

I’m under the impression that my house must have been built on a gravel pit, because digging the foot deep trench to bury the bottom of the lattice was a nightmare. Luckily, I also bought a spanking new plastic handled pick for the task, because I could not find my old wood-handled one that about kills me every time I use it. I remember one time the head slid down during an overhead swing and about broke my fingers!

So here I sit, just before dinner, typing in this tale of my tools and the beginnings of the dog run project under way. My hands and wrists are sore from the pick, my knuckles are scraped from clearing the rocks out of the narrow trench and I am just worn out adding this ditch digging into the day of watching the kids and the new puppies.

The latticework turned out looking nice, but I still have a few more sections to finish. My new tools and me made it through yet another task from the “honey do” list, and I still have the use of all of my body parts, even though they are a tad sore.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Doctor Is Out

I like listening to talk radio. My wife thinks this makes me out to be an old man, but personally I find it very informative and helps keep me up on current events and what’s on the minds of the people.

Sure the talk show hosts put their slant on the news of the day, but they also speak to their callers and bring up some valid arguments, whether for or against any topic. Sometimes I agree with them, and sometimes I don’t. Either way I get to hear a side of a discussion that I may not have considered before.

In my local area I have normally listened to Michael Savage. Not because I like to, but because he comes on the main talk channel I listen to and I’m too lazy to change the channel to find something different since many of the other talk stations fall into sports around the same time as Michael is on and I am getting home from work.

Recently I have purchased an XM Satellite Radio and have been listening to the “America Right” channel. Out of curiosity I have tuned into the “America Left” channel many times and can’t believe they are still whining about the Bush/Gore election.

My morning drive is now better since many of the local talk stations have too much crap on in the mornings. Seems every time they find new talent something happens and it turns back into crap. This is why I finally took the leap into giving Satellite a try.

Even though my mornings improved, this did not change my afternoon drive much since Michael Savage was on the exact same time slot on XM that he was locally.

On the “America Right” channel over the past couple of days they have announced that Michael Savage will no longer be on during that time slot at the request of Michael Savage. I’m not sure why he asked to be removed, but I’m rejoicing!

Listening to Michael Savage is like a car wreck. I hate listening to him but he’s so obnoxious he can still be entertaining.

Why does Michael Savage annoy me so much? Mainly it’s his arrogance not only to those people who call his show, but seemingly to the entire world.

Some talk show hosts are a bit stuck on themselves too, but at least they interact with their audience in a mostly respectful manner. Not Savage, he abuses everyone equally in his typical nasty fashion all the while pontificating at how superior he is over everyone else.

He is under the impression that screaming at his callers, name-calling, and the fact that he is educated makes him a great host. He makes claims that he single-handedly gets people elected, or any number of successful ventures and gets downright annoyed if he is not given the recognition he feels he so richly deserves.

I wouldn’t dream of calling his show because he would just resort to screaming, interrupting, and then hanging up on me. His brand of discussion focuses on him alone and damn any other opinion that does not follow his own twisted logic.

I’m happy to report that Michael Reagan has replaced the Savage on my afternoon drive. I used to listen to Michael Reagan when I lived in Utah, and I’m glad to have him back with me on at least some of my car time.

At least Michael Reagan listens to his callers and seems to have a level head on his shoulders instead of some schoolyard vendetta against everyone because they picked on him in school that Savage seems to be harboring.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you have a doctorate or a GED, when you’re an ass, a degree is just a piece of paper.

I say good riddance to Mr. Savage, and I hope this means that I will never have to listen to his whining complaints and terrible attitude again on my radio.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Your Choice

What’s the motivation that drives someone to want to blow themselves up in the name of their respective cause? I can’t imagine what goes through anyone’s mind that wishes to end their own life, much less the lives of hundreds of others.

The current theory is that these people are so devoted to the twisted religious views that somehow by killing themselves in the act of inflicting death on their enemy they somehow will find favor with their God.

There was a time when another culture believed in killing themselves for their cause. The Japanese attempted this tactic in World War II and look where it got them.

It can be an honorable thing to die defending your beliefs and your country, but to commit suicide in the act is a whole other matter.

When you examine this strategy from a distance, begin to wonder why men will go out and kill themselves for a leader who is not willing to do the same. How can you follow a man who says, “Go and kill yourself for our cause”, when they themselves will not do likewise?

It all boils down to one of my main philosophies. Do not follow any leaders blindly. And I should add that especially if those leaders have your death in the instructions.

People are too much like a herding animal, always trying to follow a strong leader of a herd of like-minded people. It’s either for fame, fortune, or the worst of all, some misguided religious belief that has the ultimate goal of killing yourself when the leader says.

What sort of crap is that? There is a saying that goes something like, “Who is more of a fool, the fool, or the fool who follows them”?

I have written numerous articles about this very thing. Any leader, from religious to political, can be suspect. Even though there are times when you must follow a leader, you must still follow that person with a clear conscience. Whether a military leader, or the CEO of a company, the demands of that leader should fit within your guidelines.

At the urging of their commander, a soldier should not gun down innocent women and children for example. If they proceed with this type of heinous behavior, they are just as liable as the commander who ordered the shooting.

Murder is murder, regardless of how you justify the deed. Where it gets dicey is during war. When is murder ever okay?

Human beings, it seems, must wage war on each other to defend their beliefs, no matter how crooked those beliefs may be. There is nothing good about war, but unfortunately it is a necessary evil of our current times. This goes back to our most basic animal instinct we are evoking, and that is survival of the fittest.

It’s kill or be killed when it comes to the combat zone, and sometimes even within our own cities.

Unfortunately there are people among us who think that being a serial killer is okay, that being a member of a gang who kills their rivals is okay, or someone who murders an abortion doctor to prevent the murder of unborn babies is okay. This is all ridiculous behavior that must stop, and the only people who can stop it are the ones involved.

The police are pretty much ineffective in this war on the sicko’s. They can only come in after the fact and pick up the pieces and occasionally arrest the right criminal and lock them up for a few years.

This is one of those topics where I don’t even know where to begin to make a suggestion on how to fix this problem. Many gangs are run by people that have no future or skills other then being the baddest bully on the block and killing anyone who gets in their way.

I would appeal to anyone finding themselves in similar situations to think and act how you know you should, rather then how the gang thinks you should. Nobody can take who you are away from you, but make certain that who you are is truly who you want to be.

Are you in a gang and think you have no future? Do you think you can never get out of your current predicament? Why not join the armed forces? You think you’re a bad-ass? Prove it and become a marine and go kick butt to defend this country to protect your family. You can be a tough guy, and make your family proud of you at the same time.

Why not become a fireman? Think you have what it takes to go into a burning building to rescue someone, or to parachute into woods that are burning all around you to cut a fire break and save homes and lives?

Come on macho man, pony up! Only a wuss would drive down the street and gun down someone walking along a sidewalk. A real man would better use his love for combat where it can do the most good for his family.

As usual I’m rambling with no real purpose. I guess the moral of this article is to be careful where you place your faith. You are nobody’s patsy or follower. Be your own self and do what you feel deep down inside is the right thing to do. Should you follow some sorry, loser, bastard who wants you to strap a bomb to yourself and murder your fellow man, or make up your own mind and make a difference by standing up to the very idiots that suggest you kill yourself in the name of their cause because they are to chicken to do it themselves?

It’s your life. Choose your path, and don’t follow an ass.