Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Look!

No, you haven't come to the wrong place.

I've only been blogging for six and a half years with the same green background as the day I started, and I would have kept my faithful green except for one thing: I got tired of the videos I posted not fitting right. That green template wasn't adjustable, so I couldn't widen my posts to fit a standard video. Bummer!

So that meant change. "Change" is a bad word--not a four-letter word but a bad word just the same. I like knowing where things are, what they look like, and how to find them. Change means I don't know those things anymore, at least not for sure. And that messes with my comfort levels. And that means I really, REALLY don't like chopped-off videos more than I don't like change, or this change wouldn't have happened at all. Probably ever.

Anyway, I hope you like the new look. Chances are good that you're going to be seeing it for a very, very long time.


The Power Line Prize has been awarded, and this one didn't win. But it's great.

The prize was designed to encourage depictions of the national debt in ways we can understand. This video is called, "Goldfish."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Are They Crazy?

I was driving home from work today and saw this kind of sign over one of the buildings along the freeway that has trouble staying occupied:

This. Is. Still. July.

Whoever made the decision to open the store now ought to have his head examined. Or lobotomized.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Movie Quotes

There are times that movie quotes are exactly the right thing for the situation. Two movies come to mind:

Star Wars (the first one, and probably all of them)

"I have a bad feeling about this...."

Exactly. I have one of them.

Men In Black (the first one)

"Did you ever flashy-thing me?"

I think they may have.

Here's what happened:

Tonight at 7:45 pm, I pulled up to a major intersection where I needed to turn right. Just as I was almost at a stop, I saw the flashy light on the yellow-light traffic camera flash. I didn't notice anyone who was obviously violating any traffic laws, and I think I may have had the nose of my car slightly beyond the painted stripe where you're supposed to stop.

Now, before you go accusing me of doing a rolling California stop (which I don't do, even though there's a huge risk that I'll get rear-ended someday by someone who thinks I shouldn't have actually stopped at a STOP sign), let me point out that there were cars going across the intersection on their green light, so I couldn't go if I wanted to not get hit. I waited at the light until about five or six cars had gone by and there was a gap in traffic.

So I was stopped. For a good long time. But that doesn't mean the insidious traffic light camera people won't be sending me a ticket in the mail with my face in it. And how can I prove that I was stopped? I can't. All I have is the fast-food napkin that I grabbed so I could jot down the details of how I wasn't in violation of any laws. As if my notes on a napkin will have much pull in a court of law (or in front of some highly biased "third party" mediator at the City).

Dang! "Whoever wrote this episode should DIE!"

Friday, July 08, 2011

A Thousand Words

Unemployment Rate 2000 - 2011

The chart and the data behind it can be found at Portal Seven.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Getting Meaning from Classes

I got my first real job as a computer programmer at a bank in Spokane. Before that I had temp jobs. One of the nice things the bank did was send us to workshops. We learned about time management, stress management, goal setting, Banking 101, and other topics I've forgotten since then.

The goal-setting class is the one that gave me what I needed to fulfill my dream since junior high of seeing the châteaux of the Loire Valley in France. The instructor told us to think of a goal, give ourselves five years from the day of the class, write it down, and post it where we could see it every day. I wrote, "I will visit the Loire Valley of France by November 19, 1985." Then I pinned it to the front wall of my cubicle at work.

We (my then-husband and I) got there in May, 1983.

At another class I took, I think it was the stress management class, the instructor was talking about morale in the workplace (in general, not ours in specific). He said the progression goes from good morale, where the workplace is pretty quiet. There's no grumbling or sabotage. People are happy.

Next comes discontentedness, and that's when the grumbling starts. And that's when management notices a problem and tries to fix it. They might bring the staff together and hope someone will tell them what's bothering everyone, but it doesn't usually work too well, because unhappy people don't have much desire to help the source of their unhappiness. So management tries something to fix what they think the problem is.

Unfortunately (and this comes from observation and discussion with my peers, not from the instructors), upper management is not made of the same cloth as the peons who populate the ranks of the workers. Peons are normal people. Upper management is full of defective types who believe that achieving power within the organization will make them feel fulfilled. They are not normal people. So, what upper management thinks is the problem is never the problem, and the things they try tend to make things worse not better.

Back to the instructor: When the managers implement their solution (or do nothing, hoping things will improve), they tend to notice that things get quiet again, and they're self-satisfied with what they've accomplished. But what they don't know is what the instructor told us: On the downhill slide of morale, after the grumbling comes the silence of discouragement and defeatism. What would be the point of saying anything when you have no hope that things will get any better? There's no point to complaining. All you can do is just bide your time with your nose to the grindstone while you look for a better job to come along, and when it does you bail. Fast. And management doesn't have a clue.

I hadn't thought about those classes in a long time, and they don't apply to my job at all--it's a happy place to work. What it applies to is my blogging. The light went on for me that the morale slide into the silence abyss is the reason I haven't been motivated to comment on what's happening in our country lately.

Once upon a time I grumbled. Issues that made my blood boil also made me hit the computer keyboard to give the world a piece of my mind. When President Bush and his RINO friends in Congress (Senator McCain, you know who you are) tried to open the borders under the guise of "comprehensive immigration reform," I had plenty to say. When Robert Mugabe made new inroads into the total destruction of Zimbabwe, I had plenty to say.

The outcry about Bush's immigration reform scuttled that monstrosity of a piece of legislation. And while nothing has been done about Mugabe and what he continues to do, World Vision still offers hope in Zimbabwe one child at a time.

Lately, though, I haven't had as much to say. Oh, my blood still boils, but I don't have much hope anymore that if I say something there might be a chance someone would listen. Michelle Malkin speaks to this in her conclusion to her latest column:

As always, however, this administration’s problem is that it hears but doesn’t listen. It makes lavishly funded gestures toward engagement while remaining divorced from economic and political reality. The core failure of Team Obama is not a failure to communicate, but a failure to comprehend.

The people running our country right now are like corporate upper management. They're defective types who want power over other people's lives, while the rest of us are just normal people who want to be left alone to live in peace. Not the ideal combination, for us regular folks anyway.

But this all reminds me not just of my old bank-funded classes but also of something we talked about in Bible study at church: God did not give us discouragement, so any discouragement I feel is not from Him.

I'll do my best in the future to let my boiling blood get my fingers typing.