Sunday, October 30, 2011

Trunk or Treat

Right now it is 2:30 in the morning and I'm at work. We have a very important delivery that needs to go out on Monday and as is usually the case, several setbacks have made us late. If I came in on the weekend and completed a few tests then we have a chance of delivering what we promised on Monday. So here I am. In between readings I thought I would take a few minutes and update my blog.

Several years ago when the kids were still small Halloween fell on a Sunday. To discourage the kids from going Trick or Treating on Sunday the church had a "Trunk or Treat" on the previous Saturday. All of the parents (and anyone else who wanted to participate) backed their cars into the stalls at the church parking lot and the kids went from car to car trick or treating. The primary had booths in the cultural hall where the kids could bob for apples and all that fun stuff as well.

Trunk or treat went over so well that we've had it ever since. In the years since I've noticed that fewer and fewer kids come to our door and more and more kids show up at the Trunk or Treat. I think a lot of the kids are inviting their friends and why not? You can hit the equivalent of dozens of house by walking around the parking lot and since you know everyone you don't have to worry so much either.

At first few people did much in the way of decorating their cars but over the years there have been some pretty well decorated cars. I decided that this year I should do something as well. I lined the back of our van with black fabric and set Lisa's nice marble table in the "cave" with a skull on it. I also hung a lantern with a candle in it. The light was so dim that I added a second candle next to the skull and a third one on the floor. For the candy dish I borrowed a Dutch oven and I kind of liked the results. Luckily science has come up with electric candles so I don't have to risk setting our van in flames to light up my cave.

I wanted to sit in the cave and hand out candy but I didn't know quite how I should dress up. I finally decided on letting my whiskers grow out (I needed a good week for that) and wear a white shirt and dark pants. I also wore an old hat. I didn't know what to call myself but some one said I looked like Indiana Jones so I'll go with that. It was so dark in the "cave" that many of the kids about wet their pants when they finally saw me in the darkness.

I think I like trunk or treat.

The number of stars that are visible with a telescope is ten times the number of grains of sand in all of the earths deserts.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Demands

When I talked about the occupy wall street crowd last time I mentioned that none of them could describe what their objective was. Well since then I've actually found a web sight where they do mention their objectives. I was a bit surprised to learn than some of their objectives I sort of agree with in a round about way. Most of them however would be completely destructive if they actually got their way. I thought I would go through their objectives one my one and describe what I thought would happen if they were actually able to get everything they wanted. 

The "Occupy Wall Street" protesters have listed 13 proposed demands from their website.

Demand one: Restoration of the living wage.

I thought we had this and it was called “minimum wage”. I'm not sure but I think a living wage is a minimum wage of $20/hr. If we had to pay the guy flipping burgers in McDonalds $20/hr then you can say good by the dollar menu. Everything will be much more expensive, we'll have higher unemployment especially among teenagers and if we don’t impose tariffs on imports then it would result in a greater trade imbalance causing many domestic companies to go out of business.

Demand two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system.

This would eliminate what is left of the free market system amongst health care and put a cap on the doctors wages. This would result in a shortage of doctors, longer waiting times and eventually rationing of life saving procedures. Old people and the handicapped would be allowed to die in order to give the limited resources to younger people. Since I’m now considered “older”, I don’t like this.

Demand three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.

I actually proposed this idea as a form of welfare but my “living wage” was just barely enough to allow someone to not starve. If every citizen received a basic living allowance then this would eliminate abuse. 

Demand four: Free college education.

I might actually be able to go along with this one. I believe education would solve many of our problems.  I would use a voucher system that is good for qualified programs (not something like ebonics) and if you aren’t passing your classes then you’re out of there.

Demand five: Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same bringing the alternative energy economy up to energy demand.

Unless you want energy costs to sky rocket you can’t end fossil fuels on a fast track. I would encourage domestic energy (coal, oil and gas) and discourage foreign energy with tariffs. I would definitely fast track alternative energy of all kinds (wind, nuclear, solar, bio-fuels etc).

Demand six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now.

There goes our taxes again. If we had actually done this with the last trillion dollars we spent (instead of bail out the banks) I think we’d be in a lot better situation now though.

Demand seven: One trillion dollars in ecological restoration planting forests, reestablishing wetlands and the natural flow of river systems and decommissioning of all of America's nuclear power plants.

Nuclear power is the only viable source of energy that produces no pollution of any kind. I do think we should create more national parks but a trillion dollars may be a bit out of line.

Demand eight: Racial and gender equal rights amendment.

I thought racial and gender discrimination was already illegal. If we want to put it in an amendment though I’m fine with that.

Demand nine: Open borders migration. anyone can travel anywhere to work and live.

I fully agree that immigration should be VASTLY simplified but do we really want to allow open borders to terrorists, drug smuggling, criminals and people with nasty diseases?

Demand ten: Bring American elections up to international standards of a paper ballot precinct counted and recounted in front of an independent and party observers system.

This is one demand that I can completely agree with.

Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the "Books." World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the "Books." And I don't mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.

Huh??? That would be interesting. I’ll have to think about this one. I think I could actually go along with this. Debt causes a LOT of problems and personally I think we'd be a better off if we didn't have it. Just watch the price of houses plummet if you had to pay cash for them.

Demand twelve: Outlaw all credit reporting agencies.

Well if you don’t have debt then you don’t need the reporting agencies. If we do have debt then you kind of need to know what your risks are or else interest rates will sky rocket for everyone.

Demand thirteen: Allow all workers to sign a ballot at any time during a union organizing campaign or at any time that represents their yeah or nay to having a union represent them in collective bargaining or to form a union.

As long as it is a secret ballot then I'm all for it. Unions are good when they're needed but if they're not needed then they shouldn't exist. I would not allow unions for public employees. Then you have the fox guarding the hen house. Tie public employees wages to the private sector and you'll be fine.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Visit from Sarah

 My highlight of this week was that Sarah came home for a few days. I guess UVU has a fall break so we took the opportunity to bring her home for a few days. It was a thrill to see her. We wouldn't normally bring a kid home with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming so soon after but she's been up there all summer long and we missed her and she missed us and we got a good deal on tickets so home she came. I think she really enjoyed being able to sleep in also. 

We didn't actually do anything special but she did go to the temple on Thursday evening and did baptisms. Thursday of course is my shift and she used to go every Thursday night for most of her senior year. We would always have dinner together in the cafeteria and then she would go do baptisms while I went back to work. It was really fun to have her there again. Of course everyone on my shift was glad to see her again as well. 

Saturday Ben and Sharley came down after Ben got off work so they could see Sarah as well. It was nice to see them again as well. Ben and Sharley's new apartment doesn't have a washer and dryer so they brought a few loads of laundry with them. Ben had to finish up freshman Geology class they wouldn't transfer over and then Fullerton has a required class that he couldn't take until after he completed all of this required classes so he's now taking those two classes and a couple of others that he added just for fun. Since he will be completed everything at Christmas time he's now in full interview mode looking for gainful employment starting 2012. He's had some pretty exciting interviews and opportunities. I'm quite excited and anxious to see what he ends up doing. I really hope he doesn't have to leave Southern California. 

Since we had a special gathering we decided to go out for a Hodad burger. I haven't been so full since last Christmas and I don't think I ate more fat in one meal than I've had in the last month. It was wonderful. You'll have to excuse the blurriness of that last picture, the taking the picture was just a bit inebriated and he didn't focus the picture very well. I imagine the picture looked normal to him. 

The median price for a house in Detroit is $7,500.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Grandpa and Nana

This was the most relaxing weekend I've had in a very long time. Lisa's Dad and Carol are taking a vacation in Phoenix and since Phoenix is a whole lot closer than Vancouver Island and I haven't seen Carol since Alycia's wedding (and even then we didn't get to visit a whole lot) we decided to whip over to Phoenix and spend the weekend with them. The drive out was really quite relaxing. It was only five and a half hours and we got left early so it was nice. When we first moved here I couldn't help but think what an ugly place the desert is. I was really glad that San Diego has lots of water brought in because we would truly be a desert otherwise. After having lived here however I've come to believe that the desert is really a very beautiful place. Don't get me wrong, I'm still VERY glad that we have lot's of water brought in but the desert really is beautiful. Harsh and rugged but still beautiful. 

If my relaxing weekend started with the drive out, it only got better once we arrived. Grandpa and Nana already had the table set when we got there and after we sat by the pool and relaxed for a while we threw the steaks on and had a great barbecue. I decided a long time ago that as long as I don't have to work in it, I don't mind extreme heat one bit. I do need the shade or I will burn in no time flat but I can sit in the shade and relax just fine. Nothing better than laying in the lawn chair reading a book. 

So Saturday morning after a relaxing breakfast we headed out to be tourists. I think the original plan was to make a wide and sweeping circle through the Superstition Mountains so we could experience the whole area but poor Lisa wasn't feeling well so we downgraded to a less ambitious plan. She wasn't up for a whole day so we went to see the Goldfield Mine. What a fascinating place. At one time the town of Gold Field was much larger than Phoenix. Who would have thought? There are still several operating mines at Goldfield but the main mine that started it all is now flooded. It  was actually flooded once before when a flash flood swept through the area and filled the mine shaft completely full of water but they pumped that all out (it took them several months) and they kept digging. The next problem happened when they got down to around 1,200 feet deep and they broke into an aquifer. That they haven't been able to pump out and the mine remains full of water to this day. I guess the locals refer to the aquifer as the GoldfField River. 

I learned some other trivia on this trip. Apparently the Sonoran desert is the only "Living" Dessert on the planet. Now in case you're like me and not quite sure what a "living" desert is, it is simply a desert with lots of plants in it. Any other desert has lots of sand and very sparse plant life. Somehow the Sonoran desert has been able to evolve a lot more plants that can survive in it. When you look at some of the pictures I took I guess you do have to agree. It looks rather green for a dessert. 

Those are the Superstition Mountains you see in the background. Don't you love that name? Superstition Mountains. I like it. 

Every once in a while as we were cruising along in the living desert we would see random buildings. It seemed very odd and you couldn't help but wonder what those buildings were. At one point in one of the more barren parts of the desert we came upon a fairly large complex of buildings. When we came up to the buildings we were quite surprised to see that it was an elementary school. How bizarre, there was an elementary school and there wasn't a single building within sight of it. I'm guessing the real estate was pretty cheap. 

So after we were done with the tour we headed back to the house and jumped into the pool. I thought it would be wonderful to jump in a cool pool when it was 100° outside but even nice water is a major shock to an overheated body. It only took moments to adjust however and I can tell you, it is wonderful to be in a cool pool when it is hot outside. 

So after good company, good food and a good book we finally had to come home.  Thanks Grandpa and Nana for a wonderful weekend. I think you should do that more often. 

The Saguaro cactus doesn't get it's first arm until it is at least 70 years old.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

I just had to take a minute and state my disgust for the morons who are participating in this "Occupy Wall street" march. They have groups in all the major cities including San Diego. In case you haven't been paying attention I guess a bunch of unemployed and uninformed bums have decided to march against big business. The problem is that these guys don't even know what they are marching for (or against). All they will say is that big business is bad and the government should raise the taxes on rich people. Some of them are even claiming that the government should take over everything. What I don't understand is if we did as they want and got rid of big business, who they think will make their clothes and their shoes, and their cars and their razor blades and their cell phones and I think you get the idea. 

Now don't get me wrong, I agree that there are major problems with lots of big businesses but most of those problems actually stem from the government. The best example is the government bailing out the big banks and General Motors. If a bank makes bad decisions then they should be allowed to fail. That way the good banks will survive and the bad banks will fail. All Obama did (and yes I know Bush started the whole stimulus package but Obama turned it into a two trillion dollar nightmare) was reward the bad banks and punish the good banks.

All I'm saying is that if the government would just leave the big businesses alone, get rid of all the loop holes in the tax code (or just go to a flat tax) then those evil big businesses would start investing their hard earned money and unemployment would drop very quickly.

In case you want to see just how clueless some of these people are watch this video.

A recent survey determined that a majority of Americans 
think that Obama is as bad as or  worse than than Bush.