Category Archives: Uncategorized

For the Sake of Purity

I just learned something today.  I’ve always believed that lifelong learning is important, so I try to find new things to try, or new activities to do, or new ways of doing things.  When I bought my house, I had never installed a refrigerator icemaker before (and I still haven’t) nor had I hooked up one from scratch.  The closest I came was connecting the existing water feed line to the back of the fridge’s connection port.

When I bought my house three months ago, the previous owner offered to leave her refrigerator behind, because she thought it would be too much of a hassle to move it, and because when it was installed, the people installing it got the doors out of alignment, and the icemaker/water dispenser didn’t work.

I accepted it, because I needed a fridge, and I figured I might be able to fix it.  So, one day I set my troubleshooting skills to work diagnosing the water problem.  Turns out that whoever installed it connected a spike tap on the water feed improperly, so not enough water was getting through.  I replaced the spike tap with a push-on tap and lo and behold, water flowed.  I have water dispensed through the door and I had full-sized ice cubes being made.  I was very happy.

Now, there was no water filter installed in the fridge (I suspect for two reasons: one: they are very expensive, and two: she thought it was broken) so I researched the proper manufacturer’s filter for that model.  They are $55 a pop.  Generic in-line filters are like $11.  I decided to install an inline filter.  Once I did, I followed the instructions to flush the line with a gallon of water.  After I did that, I ran my hand around the filter to make sure there were no leaks.  Thankfully there were none, but I did make a surprising discovery.  The water filter was very hot.

I was perplexed.  Why did it get hot?  Was it perhaps an exothermic reaction between the water and the filter element?  Did I install it incorrectly and it was backflowing?  No, the answer was much simpler.

The idiot who installed the spike tap wrong installed it on the friggin hot water line!


I feel like Lando Calrissian finding out the hyperdrive wasn’t fixed properly.  “It’s not my fault!”

So now I must decide it I want to spend the money moving the tap to the proper line, or let it go.  It only gets hot if it runs a lot of water through the pipe, and a glass of water or tray of ice here or there doesn’t do that.

I’ll probably move it, if only because it will nag at the back of my mind until I do.  “It’s wrong.  Fix it!”

So, I learned that just because some “professional” does an install doesn’t mean they did it correctly.  Or even close to correctly.  Or even on the same planet as correctly.  I mean seriously.  Faulty tap AND on the wrong line?

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The Hollywood of Texas

Just outside the window of Pocket’s Grille, a large, rustic water tower announces the name of the small Texas town of Smithville much like the giant HOLLYWOOD sign does in California. Inside the restaurant, people sit around enjoying their meals and conversation amid large signs and props from the 1997 movie Hope Floats. One might think that the owner, Troy Streuer, has a mere obsession with the film, but the truth goes deeper than that; the movie saved his business. “I was literally about to close my door. I’d been open like 8 months or so and I wasn’t making it. And all the sudden, Hope Floats starts filming and everything turns around. I have this deep love for [the film] because it somehow got me over the hump.”

The movie, starring Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr. was the first of more than 80 movies, television shows, and commercials that have filmed in Smithville, bringing in a significant revenue stream and putting the town on the tourist map.

It is All in the Name

Adena Lewis, Director of Tourism and Economic Development for Bastrop County and former President of the Smithville Chamber of Commerce, credits the town’s mayor for putting Smithville in the limelight. “Because of the smart thinking of Vernon Richards, our mayor at the time, the name of the town, Smithville, was used in the film. [The producers] came to him and asked him if they could repaint the name on the water tower to match the name of the town in Arkansas that was in the script. Vernon said ‘that’s kind of an expensive thing to do. Why don’t you just use the name of our town?’ The location guy said that was entirely too complicated a process. Vernon said ‘why don’t you just give me a dollar.’ The guy reached into his billfold and gave him a dollar and Vernon said ‘you’ve just bought the rights to use the name of the town Smithville in your movie.'”

That thinking became a tradition as more films came to Smithville. “If you walk in the Hall of City Hall, you’ll see framed dollar bills or dollar checks from lots of production companies that have come to Smithville,” Lewis added. “It’s become a tradition to collect a dollar from them in order for them to be in Smithville.”

A Location Destination

Many big productions have since been filmed within the few city blocks of Main Street including Doonby starring John Schneider, Beneath the Darkness with Dennis Quaid, Lost in the Sun featuring Josh Duhamel, and Oscar Winner The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt. More recently, the pilot for the television show Kevin (Probably) Saves The World was filmed in town.

Filmmaker Peter Mackenzie wrote and directed the 2013 movie Doonby and had planned on shooting at Spiderwood studios in nearby Elgin, Texas, when a producer recommended Smithville for location shooting. “I drove down and it was incredible. It was exactly what I’d written. ‘Oh yea, there’s the police station. Oh yeah, there’s the bar.’ It was absolutely perfect as a film set. I knew I was in good company because on the other corner the Coen brothers were doing scouting.” Mackenzie sees the value of the town as a shooting location. “You’ve got this little town itself which is a dream to film in with locations everywhere you look. You have this wonderful countryside all around it.”

April Daniels, the Executive Director of the Smithville Chamber of Commerce, echoes Mackenzie’s thoughts. “Mostly people come here because they want to shoot onsite. They want to shoot our beautiful old main street buildings. They’ll put up new awnings for us or they’ll paint the side of our buildings or paint signs. For Kevin (Probably) Saves The World, they dressed up the windows up and down the street.”

Smithville has a film commission that interfaces with the production companies before and during the filming process. Skeeter Sewart, the film commission’s chairman, volunteers his time to help producers find locations. “What we try to do is when the movie contacts me, I show them around and show them what [the] locations are and then give the heads up as to what fees and permits and everything else is required.”

When a film is on location, it brings in a lot of traffic and business for the town. Sallie Blalock owned the Katy House Bed and Breakfast for 20 years. She recalls when The Tree of Life was shooting, the producers went out of their way to minimize the disturbance of bringing in trailers and finding places to park them. “Terrence Malick did not want to disrupt the town at all so he rented every property that was for sale or rent so they didn’t have to bring in trailers and a lot of equipment.” She appreciates the business that production companies bring. “Valero came and did three or four commercials in town and filled up the bed and breakfast for three days in the middle of the week. You can’t beat that.”

If You Film It, They Will Come

While many of the residents appreciate the film industry for the revenue it brings directly, there is another benefit to having movies shot in town. Lewis recalls when she first joined the Chamber of Commerce she noticed that a lot of people coming into town were coming because of Hope Floats. “I don’t think any film has been as popular in bringing tourists to us as that original [film]. People still come here to get married, see the house.”

Sewart also sees the benefit tourism brings to the town. “They come in, they eat at Pockets, they buy gas. If their car breaks down, they get it fixed. It brings in revenue.”

A True Love Story

To say the town has a love affair with the movies is not just an understatement; the movies have a love affair with the town as well. Streuer has made lasting friendships with many of the production crews, many of whom return for new projects. “I think once you get that reputation of being easy to work with from the government standpoint all the way down to the people, I think that really carries.” When the crew members move on to become producers and directors later in their careers, Streuer states that “they remember Smithville and they come back.”

Peter Mackenzie calls Smithville home as well. “These are close family friends, not just acquaintances. All the actors who were on Doonby have all stayed very close to the people of Smithville. They all consider it as a place where they have a bunch of friends. John Schneider is in love with the place and is always around. Several of the other actors become very much a part of the world in that little town in Texas.”

Sallie Blalock recalls Dennis Quaid helping out the town in its time of need as it recovered from the wildfires of 2011. “Dennis Quaid was in the police station to shoot a scene for Beneath the Darkness when he noticed a barrel in the hall and asked what it was for. The Sherriff said it was for Blue Santa and it was usually full of toys for kids. This was right after we had the wildfires and everybody was tapped out and the barrel was empty.” Quaid brought his band in and held a sold out concert and the proceeds went to help the town with the Blue Santa.

The Challenge for the Future

Unfortunately, the love affair has been a bit strained lately as production companies have begun to opt for locations in other states. Lewis explains that it all comes down to money. “Every year at the legislature, we have to fight to get funding for the Texas Film Commission,” she said. “Texas was a leader for a long time, and now we get competition from Georgia and Louisiana. We’d never paid money to get people to come, we’d just given them a percentage back on what they spent in Texas as an incentive. We used to be the leaders on that and now we’re not.”

Sewart sees the changes as well. “The pilot [for Kevin (Probably) Saves The World] was filmed here. Now they film it in Georgia because the incentives are better. If Kevin was being filmed here, because it’s a series, they’d be here every day. Now I hear they’re just outside of Atlanta.”

Despite the legislative woes, Smithville’s old water tower stands like a beacon, bringing a bit of Hollywood to Texas. Movie makers and lovers from all over the country visit Smithville to catch a bit of Hollywood magic. Working amid the props from that first film, Streuer recognizes the magic of the movie making in his restaurant. Even after 20 years since the film’s debut, Streuer still sees the residual impact from Hope Floats in Smithville. “People still come to see the town and they still come in here.”


This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of TexasLiving.

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To Beard Or Not To Beard

I have had a beard for most of my adult life.  I do not wear it to please others, but I do get feedback and it is often quite divided.  So, here is a poll.  Which look works best?  Full long beard, short trimmed beard or no beard.

Don’t worry, you won’t hurt my feelings.

Unless you don’t vote…


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Perpetual Snooze

I have an alarm clock on my nightstand, as I’m sure many people do.  Maybe not as many as before the digital age, but I have been in enough places to notice that alarm clocks are still common (although the selection at the local retailer is getting as small as the software isle).  I have this clock set to go off at 6 am.  It does this without regard to which day of the week it is.  Even though it is Bluetooth enabled, it does not have programming options to set which days it goes off automatically.  I have to manually tell it to go off or not.  I also have my cell phone set to go off every weekday at 5:30 am and unlike my clock, I don’t have to turn off the alarm on the weekends because it does that by programming.  And just as a backup, I have a Zigbee automated outlet that turns my lamp on at 5:30 too.  I have to be up and heading for the shower by 6 to make it to work on time and this regime helps to keep me on time.  Of course, no one wants to get up early if they don’t have to.  The weekends have long been the respite from early mornings of buzzing clocks and chiming phones.  But the sad truth is I don’t really need any of this stuff.  As the years go by, my body has developed a more annoying way of ensuring I get up before 6 everyday, regardless of which day of the week it is.


When I was young, my parents were always up before me on school days.  Even though we had to leave for school before they went to work, mom was up and about ensuring we had everything we needed to get off to the bus stop in time.  On the weekends, however, no one needed to tell us to get up.  My brother and I made a point of being up and in front of the TV for our Saturday morning cartoons.  Superfriends, Scooby Doo, and Bugs Bunny set our internal alarm clocks and we never hit snooze.  By the time Fat Albert came on, we were ready to head outside for whatever mischief we could dig up.  This internal alarm clock didn’t work on Sundays, however.  Mom had to drag us out of bed in time to get ready for church.
As I got older, sleep became more alluring.  In my teen years, my internal alarm clock got stuck on perpetual snooze.  Either that or it broke entirely.  Most adolescents share this antipathy toward getting out of bed, which lasts well into their 20’s.  I thought it would last forever.  I imagined spending long, languid days lounging in bed on the weekends.  I didn’t count on aging.  I didn’t remember my Granny’s example.
Every time we went to visit Granny, she was out of bed and in her recliner with a steaming cup of Folgers and the morning edition of the Democrat-Gazette before any of us had even shuffled to the bathroom.  This happened seven days a week.  This happened even though she was retired from her position as a teacher.  I remember, as a teenager, being in awe that she was always up so early, even though she didn’t have to be.  Why would any sane person be out of bed at 6 am if they didn’t absolutely HAVE to be under penalty of death or dismemberment?
Well, now I know.
Once a body hits a certain age–and this age is different for different people–it has different requirements and priorities.  While sleep is still important, the priority is often just a short walk down the hallway or in the adjacent room.  This priority is often attended in a semi-conscious state if awake at all.  Now, after relieving that priority, one might assume one could just drift back to bed, but no; the body has yet other ideas.  After trying to nestle back into the just-starting-to-cool sheets of the bed, I feel like a dog turning circles trying to settle in.  I end up flipping back and forth, rolling from one side to the other trying to get comfortable again to no avail.  With a groan of frustration, I look at the clock.  6 am.  Almost every day.  Some days it’s even earlier.  Most mornings, I spend a few minutes counting down until the alarm clock sounds. 
The true frustration is on the weekends, when I would really like to spend a few hours catching up on some Z’s as the morning light begins to stream in through the windows.  Alas, the times my body lets me stay in bed past oh-dark-thirty are few and far between, to the point of being rare.  Even this morning, I was awake and doing my horizontal rolling dance, trying to find a comfortable position until I surrendered to the inevitable and got up at 7:30.  Most weekends, I lay in bed and listen to my lovely wife softly snore and other times, I sit in the family room and listen to her not so softly snore.
There are benefits to this internal alarm clock.  I never oversleep.  I am usually on time for work.  I am rarely affected by time changes messing me up.  My internal clock seems to be on daylight savings time at the appropriate instances and it accounts for time zones when I travel.  Perhaps I could try to package this.  I could single handedly put the alarm clock industry out of business.  Too bad my internal clock doesn’t have Bluetooth.

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Citizen Who?

There is an important discussion in progress that promises to inform the debate and be a hinge pin in the midterm elections next year continuing to the presidential elections in 2016.  Immigration reform has been a topic in the public sphere for several years now, decades, even, but no one has really driven the issue to the forefront until this administration.  The left has been crying over what they perceive as a wrong that needs to be righted while the right decries the move as nothing more than an attempt to drum up more democrat-leaning voters.  While there are salient arguments to be made both ways, the underlying issue has nothing really to do with immigration or reform.  It has to do with something much more fundamental and much more important to the American way of life.  It has to do with rights and responsibilities.  It has to do with the foundational tenants of political affiliation.  It has to do with what it means to be American.  It boils down to one word: Citizen.

The Seattle Office of Civil Rights last week issued a policy letter to the city workers striking the word citizen from all official documents and replacing with the word with “resident.”  They claimed that the word “citizen” was offensive to residents who were living there without citizenship.  This is part of a larger language guidance that removes the words dinosaur and birthday among many others from official documents for the same “offensive” concern.  This is the most egregious case of political correctness run amuck to date.

The Eugene, Oregon city council in 2011 voted down a measure that called for reciting the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of all council meetings.  While many opponents claimed the words “Under God” violated their understanding of the separation of church and state, Councilman George Brown said that said that he did not feel any allegiance to the country, but rather to the world.

Is a citizen an integral component of controlling government, or does government exist to control the citizen?  This begs the question: what does it mean to be a citizen?  If you ask the average person on the street you might get answers like “to be born in the country” or “someone who pays taxes.”  These seem like good answers on the surface, but that is the point.  They are superficial.  They are easy to spit out and don’t require any thought.  But if you look deeper, there is a significant difference to how the word can be defined, and that difference, not surprisingly, can be drawn along the same ideological differences that separate liberals and conservatives.  Liberals tend to think that the citizen gives the government a reason for being; the citizen is dependent on the government for guidance and support.  Conservatives view citizenship as a duty to the greater good; that the citizen guides and supports the government.

This dichotomy is why compromise seems so hard to come by in politics.  The force behind any change in legislation is fundamentally opposed by the opposite corner.  When a politician from one side of the aisle reaches across to work with the other camp, they are accused of “selling out” and abandoning their principles.  This idea, while often harshly stated, is not far from true, but that is the definition of compromise.  No one wins the debate.  And as is true in so many polemic debates, there can be no clear winner.

So who wins in the citizenship debate?  Is a citizen an integral component of controlling government, or does government exist to control the citizen?  That is the idea that really drives the political debate and will continue to do so for as long as we have participatory government.  Once we lose the ability to debate, we have lost our government, our country and ourselves.  We would be a country of nothing but residents and no citizens.

Some conspiracy theorists have postulated that the Seattle initiative is related to the immigration reform “amnesty” that is before congress.  The thought is that if Americans come to believe that there is no such thing as citizenship, then “THEY” can come in and take over our country.  The “THEY” being socialists, communists or any other nondescript non-American entity.  While entertaining to consider, most people dismiss these allegations as extreme.  But as entertaining as it is, these theories are borne out of observation of real events and they are not all so farfetched as to be ignored.  The founding fathers warned that freedom requires diligence on the part of the citizen in watching the government, lest the freedoms so fiercely fought for would be willingly surrendered.  It would be so much easier to take the freedoms from residents than from citizens.


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Does Technology Die?

I read a tech column that was posted on Yahoo about 15 devices that children born today will never know and it has followed a running trend in the field of technology writing that assumes wireless is the answer to all that ails the world.  This is a fallacy and a common mistake made by many who do not truly understand the limitations of the technology.  The article also makes some pie in the sky assumptions about where today’s tech—TV, computers, remote controls and optical discs—will go.
Wireless communication is a fabulous thing.  Being able to talk to people untethered, not chained to a wall or even to a building is a marvel of the modern age.  It wasn’t that long ago that if you had a long cord on your receiver that allowed you to walk around the room, you were living large.  Now you can talk to someone while walking throughout your house, outside to the drive way, getting into your car and even driving down the street (don’t talk and drive people).
Wireless internet on handsets is also fabulous.  Being able to lookup directions, settle arguments about trivia, find sports scores and now even watch streaming videos in the palm of your hand is quickly becoming commonplace.
These applications are the basis for techno neophytes to assume that everything needs to be wireless.  If watching a video on an iPhone is cool, then who could ever need or even want wires.  Surely those who make tech products understand that wires are dead.  But the truth is that wires are not dead and will never be dead.
While 4G LTE networks are making broadband speeds available to the wireless handsets, the speeds are nowhere near the speeds of which cable modems are capable.  Comcast offers 105 Mbps downstream and the fastest LTE network barely offers 10 Mbps (actual consumer speeds, not theoretical throughput).  That isn’t the only problem with wireless either.  In the wireless world there is a little discussed phenomenon known as frequency contention.  If you have too many wireless devices using the same frequency, they tend to get lost in the chatter.  It is kind of trying to have a conversation in a stadium where everyone is talking at the same time.  This slows down data transfer dramatically and high bandwidth uses get severely curtailed by packet loss.  Also, the more devices trying to connect to the same receiver also slows down data transfer.  Kind of like all lanes of a 5 lane freeway merging into a single toll booth.  Certainly, there are ways network designers can mitigate these problems, but the point is that wired connections are more stable and wired networks are far more secure and wired networks are always faster.
The writer of that article also maintained that remote controls will soon go the way of the dodo as capacitive touchscreens get big enough to become televisions.  I seriously doubt this will happen.  Two things will prevent the television from becoming a touch-controlled device: eye strain and fingerprints.  To interact with the television by touch, one must be so close that it becomes difficult to take in the whole picture, especially when the size of the TV is larger than 36 inches.  And who wants to constantly be windexing the fingerprints off the front of the set?  Kinect style motion capture and voice control may replace the push button remote, but not capacitive touch.  I have used my Kinect; I still prefer the remote control.
3-D TV will never become mainstream.  I realize that I am in the minority with this assertion, but trust me, no one wants to watch TV wearing glasses all the time.  If manufactures can develop a successful 3-D image that can be viewed without glasses, then maybe—and only if content producers are willing to invest in that technology to produce shows in that format, which they probably won’t.  We still have a lot of TV shows produced in SD and up-converted for HD sets, but they are not true HD.
The death of the PC will never happen, though the PC will not look like it does now.  Apple and HP have shown us where the PC will be going.  The desktop/tower/workstation will evolve into a slimline footprint integrated into the viewscreen.  Keyboards and mice will continue to exist for the same reasons that TVs will not go touchscreen.  People do not want to get too close to the monitor when the monitor is larger than 30 inches or so.
Optical Discs are falling out of favor for mainstream consumers in favor of streaming.  This is more convenient, to be sure, but streaming does not come close to the image quality of Blu Ray.  Streaming offers at best progressive scan DVD quality, which is not bad at all, but it doesn’t offer the immersive experience of watching a blue ray on a 52-inch or larger display.  Add the fact that owning a library of DVDs which one will always have access to is preferable to accessing content on the internet which may rotate the titles every few months (as Netflix and Xfinity do).  Having the movie archived to an optical disc in how true film buffs will continue to operate as long as discs are produced.  Hollywood is, sadly, the only entity that controls how long Blu Ray will last.
Technology is ever evolving, and new products are being developed every day and others are being improved.  And while many products have died (video tapes, laser disc, 8-tracks, etc) not everything that exists today will disappear.  Even the vinyl LP record, which people predicted would die when cassettes came out then again when CDs came out is still hanging in there in niche markets.  Yes, that means the record companies are still pressing new vinyl records.  So, while young people can dream of a day where there are no wires and everything fits in the palm of your hand and is controlled with a swipe of your finger, some things just won’t die.

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Something Wrong With Your ‘Droid?

In my last post, I touted the wonders of my new Transformer Prime Android tablet and weighed in on some of the benefits of the new technology.  Having used the tablet for two months now, I see the fundamental problem with the tablet wars.  Backing. 
The iOS for the iPad is made by Apple for Apple.  The OS is intimately intertwined with the device, meaning that it is fully optimized for the technology. Apps for the tablet are required to go through a rigorous vetting process to ensure they meet with Apple’s user guidelines.  Android is written to run on many different devices, which means it cannot be as effectively optimized for the technology. It is also open source, so anyone can write apps and post them.  Granted, they have to be vetted by Google to get into the market (AKA Google Play) for download, but that doesn’t preclude installing outside the market if you so choose.
A quick perusal of both Google Play and the Apple App store shows a plethora of mindless games and cutsie apps ranging in price from free to expensive.  But the edge in software goes to Apple for one simple reason: they actually write some productivity software for the iPad that is fully functional.  Google writes software too, but only the prototypical Google Apps that are essentially web 2.0 apps anyone can use on any PC.  Google has not produced an Android tablet-centric app yet.  Some tablet manufacturers have partnered with software developers to bundle some apps on the device right out of the box.  Polaris Office came on the Transformer Prime and Thinkfree Office came the Samsung Galaxy S phones and Galaxy Tab.  But neither of these apps is a full-featured standalone productivity app.  They are designed to work with documents created on a “real computer” that need to be accessed remotely.
Now, I understand many people will say that a tablet is not a PC and that if one wants the full function productivity of Microsoft Office, then one should buy a laptop or perhaps a Windows-based tablet.  This is an outstanding argument.  But it is an argument in defeat.  To contend that the Android Tablet should not be used for productivity is to say that it is a plaything and has no business application in the workplace.  This is not true.  The tablet can be a fully functional productivity tool if it has the backing of a major software developer.  The Windows-based tablets have Microsoft, the iPad has Apple, but the Android only has Google, who doesn’t seem to really be pushing productivity for the Android tablet.  It is as if Google is saying “hey, we wrote the Android OS for phones, not tablets.  You guys are on your own.”
If Google doesn’t fully embrace the Android-based tablet market and make a fully featured productivity suite for it akin to iWork on the iOS, then the war will wage on tilting slightly Apple. Look to Google doing this in the near future, or look to the Android tablet fading from the marketplace. Of course, Google will probably answer this with more cloud-based apps like their Google Docs. Not a bad app, but it is not Android specific and it is not close to being a full-featured productivity suite.
Of course, cloud-based computing is all the rage now. In fact, Samsung offers a cloud drive, Asus offers a cloud drive, Amazon has a cloud player for their MP3 store and the Kindle uses the cloud for the whisper sync feature of their reader app. Microsoft has their infamous “To The Cloud” ad campaign touting the benefits of cloud computing. I even use the Google Docs cloud for some of my work, but I cringe at relying solely on the cloud for my writing. My tablet is WiFi only, so if I am away from a hotspot, I have no access to my cloud drive. I like having local copies on the device that update when connected. I also want an app that resides on the device for editing, not one that denies access when it cannot detect a network connection.
Having said all that, and still wishing for a more full-featured app, I do really love this device. It is on almost constantly. I even woke up the other day at 2 am with an idea for a new story and was able to get it into the tablet before my brain shut down. With my old Windows netbook, I would have had to wait for it to either resume or boot up and that takes a lot of time–especially at 2 am when the brain is not the most reliable. The tablet simply came on and I tapped my Polaris Office icon and tapped away the idea. That is perfect for me. And it fully runs Flash, so I have access to the whole internet of video streaming. I still whole-heartedly recommend that Asus Transformer Prime as a great tool.

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Get To Work!

What do you do for a living? This has long been a standard icebreaker when starting conversations with new acquaintances and it was usually an easy one. Now more and more people don’t have a satisfactory answer to that otherwise benign question; or at least an answer they feel comfortable admitting. The unemployment rate continues to hover near 10 percent nationwide, even though many employers are hiring. The situation is so grim that a grumble has begun among the people that something must be done, and they are demanding that the Federal government be the one to do something.

This is not a surprising reaction. Whenever something goes wrong, any human is going to expect someone to do something; someone in authority—someone other than us. The sad fact it that there is no single authority that can fix this problem. It is not up to the government to create jobs.

President Obama has been drawing a lot of criticism and blame for the current jobs market. Some of the problem is his fault, but not all. His responsibility in this mess is that he created policies that drove businesses to stop spending, thus cutting jobs. That is a problem he can address by reversing some of his “Big Government” policies and letting the economy heal itself.

But no one should be looking to Washington or Obama to create jobs. It is not the government’s job to create jobs. Job creation has always been and should always be the purview of business. A business owner determines how many people the company needs working for them in order to maximize revenue and maintain productivity. Too few employees depletes morale and hurts productivity, too many employees dilute compensation and benefits and erode profit. The business owner needs to determine the number of employees needed and the compensation levels, not the government.

Similarly, the government is not supposed to create jobs out of thin air. Creating an office in order to create jobs is a waste of taxpayer dollars and hurts the economy rather than helping it, since it is invariably paid for with tax increases to the working class. Infrastructure jobs are only temporary and while that may boost employment figures in the short term, it does nothing to help the economy in the long run.

With his public approval rating the lowest it has ever been, Obama feels the pressure to do something to get the public support back—especially heading into the campaign season. He pulls his old “stimulus plan” off the shelf—the same one that was defeated because it would cost too much of the tax payer—rebrands it a “Jobs Bill” and expects congress to approve it so “America can get back to work.”

This bill was defeated in the senate—again—and now Obama is pointing fingers at senate republicans claiming that they do not want American to have jobs. This is ludicrous. No one wants high unemployment. Conservatives want people to go back to work, but they don’t want the government to pay for it. Much of our current economic mess is because of too much government spending. Throwing more money at it will only make it worse. What sense does it make to try to put out a gasoline fire with more gasoline? The answer is to relax some of the regulations on business that the liberals put in place so that business owners feel comfortable hiring more people. Create an environment that will foster new business development, not more taxes and more regulations that make entrepreneurs think twice about starting a new business venture. Give business room to grow, and more jobs will sprout as a result.

People want jobs. They want to work. But people need to look to business for job, not Uncle Sam. The last thing any sane person should want is the federal government writing their paycheck with money garnered from taxing others’ checks. That is just one more example of socialism. Look for a job that generates a paycheck that is not dependant on other people’s paychecks, but rather on the success of the business in question. Then people can start answering that polite ice breaker “what do you do for a living” with an answer full of pride of self respect.

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2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 73 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 136 posts. There were 47 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1mb. That’s about 4 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was June 11th with 87 views. The most popular post that day was Legislating From the Pulpit.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and WordPress Dashboard.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for 3d film, quills and pixels, journalism is dead, comic book stack, and “dave hand” comcast.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Legislating From the Pulpit June 2010
8 comments and 1 Like on,


An Epic Upgrade December 2010
7 comments and 1 Like on,


Who Me? September 2009


What you say October 2009


Just Here for the Foot Rub December 2009

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Where to find good pipes and tobacco in Houston

Short blog on pipes

via Where to find good pipes and tobacco in Houston.

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