Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Economy

Lets start with the economy. Very few Americans haven't been hit hard by the current economic downturn. Both how we got into this predicament and how we've responded to it are very interesting. While all the details of what caused the economic downturn are complicated, at the heart of it all is the housing market. For the last few decades dating back to Clintons regime the liberals in office (and that include several Republicans) noticed that very few poor people owned a house. While a conservative would look at that and say, "houses are expensive, you need to have a good job if you want to buy a house" the liberals looked at that and said, "that just isn't fair that poor people can't have a house, we need to make things fair." They then passed a law that FORCED the banks to make it easier for low income people to get a mortgage. Of course anyone who could make a buck jumped on the band wagon and went along with this including many of the more irresponsible banks. You could get homes with zero dollars down, you could get loans without proof of income and even illegal immigrants could get a mortgage. Of course the government controlled banks like "Freddy Mac" and "Fanny Mae" were the worst ones.

As you can imagine things were great for a very long time. The huge demand in houses drove the prices up and people who had a lot of equity in their homes refinanced them and took out cash and the housing market grew at an incredible rate. Eventually, as you knew it had to, the bubble burst. The mortgage backed line of credits ran out, the interest only loans came due and the foreclosures began. Once the foreclosures started the collapse fed on itself. The foreclosed homes went up for sale and drove down the price of houses and now a large portion of the population were upside down in their mortgages. They owed more than the house was worth so now they couldn't even sell their homes to pay off the loan and more foreclosures went on the market.

The liberals looked at this and said. Oh those mean banks are taking away everyones homes and they forced the banks to renegotiate the loans so now they put the banks in financial jeopardy. Once the banks are in trouble now the liberals want to fix the problem and they bail out the banks. The problem is that in order for the government to give someone a dollar they have to take three dollars away from someone else. That someone else my friend is you and me who pay taxes.

The conservative looks at this financial crises and say, "that is real sad that my neighbor is losing his house but if he can't afford to buy it then he's better off without that huge mortgage hanging over him." They look at the bank that was stupid enough to loan money to a guy making $60,000 a year so he can buy a $500,000 house and say, "if you're dumb enough to make a loan like that then perhaps you shouldn't be in the banking business." The sad thing is that the government is taking money away from the banks that were responsible and giving it to the banks that were irresponsible. They are punishing the good guys and rewarding the bad guys. It makes no sense to me.

So now the economy is in a real shambles so the liberals say, "oh my goodness, people are suffering, we must fix this". They cook up a trillion dollar "stimulus" package that my grand children will be paying off and bail out irresponsible companies like GM. That means that now the government is competing against responsible car companies like Ford and Toyota who wouldn't touch a dime of government money. Tell me how it is far to take my tax dollars and help GM compete against private industry? The pathetic thing is that almost all of the jobs created by the stimulus package are government jobs so all of that borrowed money isn't producing anything that has any value. At least in the depression the jobs that the government created built highways and the Hoover damn and produced something of value. Just a little side note here. The stimulus package is funding some energy research which is paying my salary at the moment. Thanks all you tax payers for giving me a job.

Conservatives will allow the irresponsible companies to fail and allow the responsible companies to succeed. That is called the free market and it ALWAYS results in the best quality product for the lowest price. If a company tries to cut corners then their product will suffer and nobody will buy it. You could argue that the government may have a place in setting standards for some products like fuel efficiency in cars and a certain level of safety so that the car doesn't cause accidents because those things could affect the safety of innocent people but the more the government gets involved then the more it will mess up the free market.

If the government taxed every single dollar that every single American makes it would not be enough to pay off our national debt.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Conservatives vs Liberals

A few days ago my nephew Peter wrote a blog stating that there was little difference between Democrats and Republicans. I do have to agree that both of these parties have become so corrupted that there is little difference between the two of them and that neither of these two parties look anything like what their original values were even just fifty years ago. I do want to point out however that the difference between Liberals and Conservatives however is like night and day. The problem is that you can't find a truly Conservative party anymore. For that matter you can't really find a truly liberal party anymore either. I tried my darnedest not to let Peter draw me in to this discussion because I'm quite sure no one really wants to hear my opinion but after several more posts and comments on Peters blog I just can't help myself. I'm going to dedicate a few postings to expressing my opinion of the difference between Conservatives and Liberals.

Basically the whole discussion can be broken down into the following. Conservatives believe that the role of the government is to protect it's citizens so that they have the freedom to live their lives however they choose and to let them solve their own problems. Liberals believe that the role of the government is to solve all of the problems for its citizens. Those both sound like wonderful values but how those roles break down into every day life is very important. Let me discuss a few important issues and how conservatives and liberals address them.

health care
national defense
affirmative action
gun control

Friday, August 27, 2010


Since two thirds of the family was here the week of my birthday we also decided to celebrate Sarah's birthday the same week. She's kind of been gypt on her birthday since the kids have started leaving for school and I think she has resolved herself to the fact that for the rest of her life she will probably have no siblings around for her birthday.

Imagine her surprise when Serene showed up on Sarah's birthday along with my two darling grand daughters. She was very surprised. We've been asking her for a while what she wanted to do on her birthday and then one day out of the blue she told us she wanted to go to a Padre's game.

I was quite surprised since that isn't something Sarah has been in to but it is always fun to go to a baseball game. I've never watched one on TV but there is a special air just being in the stadium that makes it fun. Of course being the cheap skates that we are we were in the nose bleed seats but that is just as fun.

We had quite a surprise when some famous Padres player that I've never heard of before showed up. I would have never known he was someone famous if the people around us didn't say something. Since it was Sarah's birthday we figures she should get her picture with him and if you know Sarah you know is is scared of nothing. She got more than a picture, he whipped a baseball out of his pocket and signed it for her. I don't remember the guys name but he was a Jones. It might have been Randy Jones.

She also got a picture with the Padre dude. At least I knew who that guy was. When Serene learned we were going to a Padres game she was a bit worried that her girls might not make it through the night. I assured her that if the girls got fussy I would take them for a walk. Some where around the seventh inning stretch Hayley and I went for a walk. Once she was able to scoot around on her own four limbs she was quite interested in the game.

Speaking of scooting around, you really need to see how Hayley crawls. I've never seen anything like it before. I guess one day she was wanting to carry a toy with her but she couldn't crawl and carry a toy at the same time. She finally figured out how to do it. Watch the video at the end of this posting to see how she does it. I didn't get a shot of her going fast but trust me, she can really scoot along. My new name for her is "Scooter".

It was a late but very fun evening. I'm really glad that Serene made the effort to get to Sarah's birthday dinner (which was spagetti in case you were wondering. Spagetti is Sarah's favorite food). It really made her day but it also made my day as well. I'm always glad to see my kids. That includes grand kids and in-laws.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lisa's nose

I read somewhere that the number of taste buds on a persons tongue can range from below 2,000 to more than 10,000. The article also mentioned that people with a low number of taste buds can eat just about anything and enjoy it. In other words, they are not picky eaters. I probably don't have too many taste buds on my tongue. the super tasters who have lots of taste buds however are the gourmet eaters. They love to savor their food and they are very picky. They find some foods very disgusting and others superb.

As most of us know, the sense of smell is closely related to the sense of taste so if this same example also holds true for smells then Lisa has an outstanding number of olfactory sensors in her nose. There are some smells that she just loves. Oddly enough, some of her favorite odors are solvents. She loves the smell of an automotive repair shop (as do I by the way) but she also loves the smell of the exhaust of diesel power engines. If we get behind a city bus she's in seventh heaven (where is seventh heaven anyway).
She also loves to smell the newspaper and every little booklet that comes in the mail. I know this makes it sound like my wife is a druggy (to be honest the thought has crossed my mind) so I would like to point out that she also loves to smell the flowers and she will tell you every flower by name just by it's smell.

As you might expect, with such a strong opinion on what smells she loves, she is also absolutely repulsed by other smells. She will instantly grab her shirt and shove it in her face when she smells some foods. I remember when we were still newly weds I cooked myself some brussel sprouts and she about gagged. Needless to say, I've never cooked them since but I will order them once in a while in a restaurant. The same goes for liver. Of course the ultimate repulsive "Lisa" odor is the cats litter box. We have the litter box upstairs in the far corner of the house and if Sheba uses her box Lisa will start gagging even though she might be downstairs in the farthest corner away from the litter box. This is true even if we've just cleaned the box and it's the first time the cat has used it. I guess the good thing is that I'm sure we clean that box long before any guests coming to the house could smell it.

During the 18th and 19 centuries, it was commonly believed that many diseases were caused by smells. Odors from corpses, feces, urine, swamps, and Earth fissures, were called "miasmas" and were thought to have the power to kill you. To ward off these smells, people carried and inhaled "antimephitics," such as garlic, amber, sulfur and incense. When exposed to miasmic odors, people did not swallow their saliva, but spit it out. The Viennese physician Semmelweis was ostracized by colleagues when he declared that washing one's hands, not breathing antimephitics, would stop most disease from spreading.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


When Alex was eleven or twelve years old he went with a friend to a reptile show. He asked if he could buy a pet while he was there and figuring he'd come home with a small iguana or something I told him "sure". Well he came home with a Python. Sure, it was less than a foot long at the time but Pythons grow up to be fairly big. Tom is now pushing five feet long.

Over the years Alex had a lot of fun with Tom (named for Tom Riddle in Harry Potter) but as all little boys do Alex grew up and spent less and less time with Tom. Eventually Alex left for college and with Alex at college Tom become rather neglected. I kept his water dish full and threw him a mouse every week or two but I never played with the guy. With no human contact Tom came to think that the presence of a human being meant food and he started striking at anything that remotely looked like a mouse including my thumb. I remember one time Alex came home from college and we were sitting on his bed visiting. We noticed that
Tom had escaped from his cage and was on the floor looking
very hungry. We sat there for nearly an hour both of us too scared to pick him up. I tried to point out that it was his pet but he wasn't buying it. Finally I was tired and wanted to go to bed so I caved in and managed to pick up the animal without getting bit. The problem was that Alex was now too scared to take his snake out and clean the cage. Luckily snakes only poop about once a month but poor Tom hasn't had his cage cleaned out since some time in 2008.

I finally decided that the poor guy needed some clean quarters so one day I tried to pick him up. As soon as I pulled the bowling ball off the lid of the cage (the bowling ball is required since that animal is now strong enough to lift just about anything else) Tom's nose was aiming straight at my hand. A couple of times he even struck at the glass. There was no way I was going to put my unprotected hand anywhere near that animals face.

I finally came up with the bright idea of feeding the snake and then picking him up as soon as he swallowed the mouse. That didn't work either. As soon as the mouses tail disappeared down Toms throat I went to pick him up and immediately his head swung around and he had that look on his face. Again, there was no way I was putting my hand anywhere inside that glass.

It was about this time that Kira came to visit. She gave me this long lecture about neglecting poor Tom and tried to guilt me into spending more time with him. I reminded her that it was Alex's animal and I hadn't signed up for this. She pointed out that even though it was Alex's animal, if I was going to keep it captive I still had some obligation to make it's life as pleasant as possible. I tried to point out that I didn't think Tom was much into conversation and didn't mind some solitude. She wasn't buying it and actually spent much of her time in Alex's room visiting with Tom while she was here.

Perhaps her efforts paid off. This week I finally decided on a plan "C". I would throw Tom a mouse and while the mouses hind legs were still protruding out of Tom's mouth I would reach in and pick him up. I figured that even if he did strike at me he would be unable to sink his teeth into my thumb. Oddly enough, when I arrived with the mouse I went to pick up the bowling ball and Tom flinched as if he was scared of me. I took this as a positive sign and put the mouse down and took the lid off the cage. Tom actually kept his distance from me so I swallowed hard and reached my hand in the cage. He didn't strike at me and actually seemed a little bit scared. Between Sarah and I we kept him company for over an hour. We cleaned his cage and put the mouse in the cage before we returned Tom. I've decided to ease the guilt Kira's has tried to give me and every time I buy a mouse I will take Tom out first (assuming he doesn't have that "look") and hold him for a while. I'll put the mouse in the cage while Tom is out in the hope that he no longer associates me with a mouse. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Another Great Week

The last few days have been wonderful and exciting and I’ve had a ton of fun. Let me try and summarized them into a reasonably sized entry. As I mentioned before, my birthday was on Thursday but since I had the Temple on Thursday we celebrated my birthday on Friday. I decided to come home from work at noon since Kira and Ben were there. When I got home Ben, Kira and I took her boys to the park. We had a lot of fun. I think the walk to the park was more fun for Evan than the park itself. He insisted on driving his wheel chair into every single driveway along the way.It was wonderful to have Kira and Ben there in addition to just Sarah and Mom. Unfortunately Alycia couldn’t get off work early enough to make it down Friday. We barbecued some steaks and had baked potatoes and ran out of time before we could eat the cake. I opened my presents and got some badly needed blue jeans and a book I’ve been wanting to read for some time. It’s called “Born to Run”. The book is fascinating and is all about barefoot running. Most of the book talks about the the Tarahumara, a tribe of natives who live in the copper canyons of Mexico. The Tarahumara will go for a 50 mile run just as an afternoon stroll. Some guy entered them into a 100 mile ultramarathon race in lace>Colorado and they were hardly winded. A 50 year old man won that race and set a record. I’m loving the book.Saturday we decided to celebrate Sarah’s birthday. Her birthday is August 24 and so for the last several years most of the kids have headed off to college by the time her birthday comes around. Since Kira, Ben and Alycia were in town it seemed like a good time to throw a party. We invited her very good friend Alex Jafek over and since his birthday was Monday we had a double birthday party. Sarah's special request was Belgian Pancakes so that is what we had.

Evan kept shooting me so I finally decided I had better die. He thought it was so funny when I did.

Evan and Landon wearing the "T" shirts that Grandma bought them at the zoo. I have to admit the Panda's were pretty cool.

Sarah made me a magnetic plate. She had one of my favorite pictures of her and I on the plate. It is now in my office.

Kira's birthday is Sep 2 and since Mom didn't want to mail the quilt she made her Kira opened this present after I opened all of mine.

Sarah and her friend Alex Jafek went to a Padres game and they saw a picture of one of the players on the side of a building. Alex commented on how cool it would be to have a larger than life poster of yourself. Sarah and I made him a larger than life poster of himself.

Justin gave Kira a pair of tickets to Chargers - Bronco's game for November when she's planning on being here for Mandy's baby. She asked Ben to go to the game with her. Kira is a Tebow fan and Ben is a Chargers fan so it should be interesting. Ben was so excited he literally started crying. It was pretty cool.

Four of my kids were here all at the same time. It was mostly a coincidence. What a great coincidence.

These were a step up from our traditional Belgian Pancakes.

Sarah and Alex shared the birthday celebrations.

We burned up some of the sparklers from Alycia's wedding.

Runners who wear shoes that cost more than $95 are more than twice as likely to suffer an injury than runners who wear shoes that cost less than $40.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Perseid Meteor Shower

Sitting out in space in our solar system is a large cluster of rocks. Every year on August 12 earth passes through this cluster of rocks and we're treated with a wonderful light show called the Perseid Meteor Shower. I've looked forward to this event as long as I can remember. In fact I've always been fascinated with cosmic wonders. I remember many times waking the kids up to go outside and watch a lunar eclipse or a comet or whatever.

The coolest thing about having the Perseid meteor shower happen on August 12 every year is that it's my birthday. What a cool birthday present don't you think?

It wasn't planned at all but this week is a special birthday treat for me. Kira came to town last week for her ten year high school reunion. Alycia decided that she needed a vacation and she's coming down this Saturday. Ben then decided that he'd come down just because it's my birthday and because he wanted to see Kira and Alycia so that means that this weekend four of my six kids will be home. The funny thing is that none of them will have their spouses with them. Kind of weird. Alex, of course, is on his mission and Brandon is writing his big major Patent Bar exam this week, is ending his summer job and is moving his family back home.

Last night I decided to relive the days when I'd take my kids out and watch the skies and take my three kids who are here (Kira, Ben and Sarah) and go lay on the back lawn and watch the sky. We're in the city so the sky is rather light meaning that we can only see the brightest stars and the brightest meteors but in the ten minutes we were out there we still saw three bright meteors and perhaps another three that were too dim to know for sure. It was fun.

Today at work I was busy plotting up some data I'd taken in a test I'd run when I get called to the front lobby. I walk out there and the lobby was filled with my family. They'd brought me lunch and a bunch of donuts to share with the office. It was kind of embarrassing but a ton of fun and everyone at work of course enjoyed the donuts. My family almost out numbered the staff.

Because I had the temple tonight we will be celebrating my birthday tomorrow night. If Lisa holds true to the past I will have angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream. I love it.

Engineers have a divorce rate of about 7% as compared to a national average of about 45%

Monday, August 09, 2010

This Was a First

When Kira arrived she warned us that one of Landons favorite pass times was to throw things into the toilet. We've been trying to keep the bathroom door closed while they're here but it was no surprise to us today when the toilet plugged up. I mean it was completely stopped. I plunged and plunged and plunged and freed it up a little bit but it was still clearly plugged. I then went and got my little sewer snake but it didn't work either. Finally I gave up and pulled up the toilet. Imagine my surprise when I saw the entire sewer line plugged full of roots. Our sewer is a long way from any trees and I just couldn't imagine how any roots would get to the toilet. I then pulled the mass of roots out of the sewer and realized that the roots weren't coming up into the toilet from the sewer line but rather they were growing out of the wax seal and going into the sewer. For the life of me I can't even imagine what kind of roots they are and how on earth did it get started growing in my toilet. Sure I imagine that they would have plenty of water and food (gross) but don't plants also need sunlight to grow? I'm tempted to plant some of these roots just so I can see what the plant would look like. All I can imagine is that we must have flushed some left over food down the toilet and a seed got stuck in the wax. In any case, the toilet is working fine now.

At one point about 150,000 years ago the ice age nearly caused humans to become extinct reducing the number of humans in the entire world to just a few hundred people.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

A Trip to the Zoo

My excitement just never seems to end. Kira arrived here on Friday. She is down for her ten year High School reunion. The reunion is actually today but she will be staying for a whole week. How exciting. Her high school buddies have decided that they are going to make it a weekend and tonight they are renting a hotel room and having a big girl "sleep over". It does actually sound like a lot of fun. Well with Kira gone on an overnighter that means that Lisa and I get to spoil the grand kids. After they woke up from their naps this afternoon we decided to take them to the zoo. It was actually a ton of fun. We totally wore them out and they were asleep within seconds of getting them buckled up in their car seats. Then when we got home and got them in their pajama's we gave them ice cream and let them stay up way past their bedtime. Once again it was a lot of fun. We'll see if keeping them up past their bedtime means that they will sleep in tomorrow. I sure hope so.

Evan was quite excited to see a mask where he could just drive his wheel chair up to it and stick his face in the mask. As you can tell he is still and inch or two short but he was just as excited non-the-less.

Evan likes the hippo's. We did take a picture of both Evan and Landon but Landon was screaming in the picture and Evan was so darn cute Landon's picture got cut.

Papa Panda was sound asleep. The Mom and baby were busy eating but it was too dark to get a decent picture of them.

If you zoom in and take a look in Evans hands you can see that the zoo keeper has given Evan the keys to the zoo. He was very excited. We never saw him give those keys to anyone else.

A female Panda Bear is fertile for only 1 or 2 days every two years. No wonder it is so difficult for them to get pregnant in captivity.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


For those of you who may not know my work is located on Miramar Road. For those who have seen the movie "Top Gun", Miramar road is the road that runs in front of the Miramar Naval Air Station otherwise known as "Top Gun". For those of you who have not seen the movie "Top Gun", Top Gun is the name of the fighter pilot school where they take the best and brightest of all the Navy Fighter pilots and give them special training to make them even better. Well the "Top Gun" school is a thing of the past and the Miramar Naval Air Station has been taken over by the Marines but the base is still a thriving air station and one of the coolest things they have there is the new Osprey. I don't know if the Osprey should be described as an airplane or a helicopter because it can take off like a helicopter with it's props pointed up but then the props rotate forward and it flies like an airplane. I share all this with you because the other day an Osprey flew over my work and we all stood out back and watched it. It was pretty cool. Back in the Top Gun days I used to climb onto the roof and watch the F-14's practice their "touch and go's". That was pretty cool. The I-15 goes right past the end of the runways and every time I'd go past the base I would slow way down and let the jets fly right over the car. They had signs posted all along the highways forbidding you to stop the car but they couldn't stop me from driving slow. The jets were very close to the ground as they flew over and since they'd have four or five jets all doing "touch and go's" there was a plane about every minute.

In October they have the Miramar Air Show and the Blue Angels come every year. In fact last year the Canadian Snow Birds even came. The day or two before the air show they practice their routine and the jets fly very low over our laboratory. As always we'd climb on the roof and watch them. A couple of their routines would take the jets right over our lab. One time the plane was so low I could see the pilot in his cock pit. Very cool.

"The piano scene and the final bar/jukebox scene were shot in a San Diego restaurant called Kansas City BBQ, at the corner of Kettner Blvd and W. Harbor Drive. The restaurant housed many props and memorabilia from the film, including the jukebox and Maverick's flight helmet sits behind the bar in a locked display case. However, on June 26, 2008 Kansas City BBQ suffered a grease fire that destroyed the establishment, including all of the Top Gun(1986) memorabilia on display.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Canada - day 10, July 5, 2010

As I mentioned in my last posting, we pulled into Jackie and Ross's house in the wee hours of the morning. Shortly after midnight I woke everyone up so we could sing happy birthday to Lisa. It was her birthday but since we were on the road I knew there wouldn't be too much we could do but we could at least sing to her. She wasn't very impressed. Monday morning we all woke up and after breakfast we knew we should get on the road because Lisa and I decided that since we still had a lot of day left we might as well try and get back to San Diego. We hugged everyone good by and scratched Ross's very tough looking dog between the ears and headed back to the I-15. We dropped Alycia off (she really missed her husband), took gifts to Marie (they have a chocolate bar in Canada called a "Sweat Marie" so we just had to get some for her) and then headed to Cedar Hills to drop Brandon and his family off.

Since it was Lisa's birthday I tried to talk her into going shopping but she just wanted to get home so as I expected her birthday was postponed. I did make her a birthday dinner and bought Marie Callendars pie later that week.

After dropping Brandon's family off we suddenly had a lot of room in the van. After a week of marathon driving and late nights playing it was all catching up to me. Lisa sent me to the back seat where I crashed for several hours. Meanwhile Lisa and Sarah were up front acting all crazy. I vaguely heard them in the far reaches of my delirious mind singing to the radio or something.

In spite of our best efforts we once again pulled into the house in the wee hours of the morning. I slept in and then headed into work a day earlier than I'd planned. I was very excited to get back to work since our breakthrough just before I left. I'm loving work right now. It is a lot more fun when things are going well.

So that was our holiday for the summer. Not very relaxing but a whole lot of fun.

The latest thinking is that the Neandertal did not go extinct but rather inter-bred with modern humans. As much as 4% of the Europeans DNA is thought to be Neandertal DNA. I think some of that DNA showed up in some of my boys.