Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Speech

President Obama, not surprisingly, called for more government spending as part of his State of the Union speech.  He called for two years of ‘free’ community college for anyone who met certain basic requirements.  Specifically, the student must keep a 2.5 GPA, attend class at least half time, and make ‘steady progress’.  Fees would be paid for programs deemed ‘effective’ by the government based on graduation & employment rates.

My first concerns is what Uncle Sam would deem ‘effective’.  Are they going to pay for these ridiculous degrees in gender studies & ‘queer theory’?  Or would it be limited to things like nursing, pre-med, business, hard science, and technical fields like HVAC & electricians?

How is ‘steady progress’ defined?  Would someone who’s determined to be a career student by constantly changing degrees be eligible?  Will we once again have lower expectations of this so called ‘steady progress’ for certain favored groups of people?

My bigger worry though is cost.  Sure, education is a key to success in this world.  People whose education stops at High School are incredibly limited.  But history’s shown us that as government pays for things, they get more expensive, and no government programs have ever cost what we were told they would.

In 1965, Medicare was projected to cost about $12 billion by 1990.  The actual cost was over $110 billion.

In 1987, DSH (disproportionate share hospital) spending was projected to cost about $1 billion by 1992.  Actual spending was $17 billion.

Cost overruns are hardly limited to spending on health care, either.

Defense programs are hotbeds of examples.  The V-22 Osprey was projected to cost $23 million in 1990.  By 2001 that cost had soared to $90 million.  The F22 Raptor’s initial estimated cost was $89 million (1992), but by 2002 that had ballooned to nearly $250 million.  Many of us remember the infamous $90 hammers and $600 toilet seats, too.

Highway construction, research projects and government travel are just a few other areas where government spends far more than it needs to.

It’s easy to see this latest expansion of government spending (states will have to pitch in, too), will likely end up costing taxpayers not $60 billion, but at least $150 billion over 10 years.

Not only that, but with more federal involvement comes more federal control.  Uncle Sam mandates this, that & the other thing to get those federal dollars.  Community colleges will be required to implement courses spouting the latest PC nonsense, and hire someone to spout that nonsense.

And, too often, when people are handed a ‘free’ education, they’re not as likely to apply themselves to it.  They’ll often float through, doing the minimum possible, in order to stay on the government dole.

Does college cost too much?  Sure!  But let’s take a look at some of the areas that are driving the cost up.  Let’s look at the professors who teach one or two classes a semester while earning bloated salaries.  Let’s look at the administrators.  Let’s examine the endowments, & the ludicrous cost of textbooks.  How much is spent on remedial classes every year?

Sure, we can improve America’s education system.  We can help young men & women be better prepared for college, and can work to lower the cost of further education, whether it’s a college or a Vo-Tech school.  I don’t think throwing more taxpayer money at the problem is necessarily the answer.

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Vacation plans

We’ve been married 5 years now.  They’ve been good, for the most part.  A few rough spots of course- we are just human.  Finances have been the toughest, since I lost my job a few years ago.  My fault.  Not Bush’s, not Obama’s.  Mine.  And I’m stuck working at a call center for under $15/hour.

Because of that, we haven’t taken a real vacation in years.  Mom & dad let us use a time share one weekend, but that was before we got married.  They ended up having to sell their ownership because of their finances.

We spent a weekend with some college friends of mine two different years.  Once in KC at the Renaissance Faire, once in Branson, MO, at Silver Dollar City.

We’ll see her family and friends a few times a year.  And we flew to Texas after dad passed away.  I’m heading back here in a few weeks, but by myself since my wife’s taking classes for her MBA.

And we’ll take our anniversary and spend it at a nice hotel, just to get away from the furry horde.

Her dream vacation would be to go back to China.  I’d be interested in seeing China & Japan if we went that direction.  My own dream trip, though, would be Ireland- it’s villages, museums, ancient castles, music, and pubs.  And their floors.  Ireland, Scotland, England (safely away from the radically Islamized parts), Germany, Italy, Greece.  History.  The cradle of Western civilization.  The home of my ancestors.  And the part of the world that touches my soul.

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Family vacations as a kid

When I was growing up, we took some great vacations.

One year, we went to the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.  I remember dad carrying me to the car at about 4 in the morning for the 10+ hour drive.  We stayed with an old friend of dad’s, Doug, who was in the Air Force.  I remember spending the whole day at the museum, looking at the incredible collection of aircraft.  At the time, they had a huge experimental bomber, the XB-70 Valkyrie on display outside.  Today, that bomber sits in a hangar in the museum annex, a short bus ride away from the main museum.

Another year, around 1978 or so, we went to Disneyworld.  We drove to Florida, seeing some beautiful country, including some of the big stables in Kentucky.  Disneyworld was still using the ‘ticket’ system, with some rides taking higher ‘value’ tickets than others.  Lots of rides, characters, and fun.  Dad’s friend Dog had moved, and we stayed with them on this trip, too.

Estes Park, Colorado was on of our favorite vacation spots.  We’d stay at a little place that had cabins for rent- I think it’s part of the YMCA now.  ‘Our’ cabin was ‘Hoot Owl’.  We’d hike, feed birds & chipmunks and enjoy the beauty of God’s world.

But we mostly took canoe trips, once to Minnesota, the rest of the time to the Ozarks.  We canoed the Jack’s Fork once, the Niangua once, and the Current River several times.  We’d drive down & either hire someone to drive us upriver, or they’d drop the car off at the next landing and we’d canoe down to it.  We’d paddle along for a few hours, floating when we could or going through some little riffles & small rapids, stop for lunch, travel a few more hours, then pitch a tent on a gravel bar for the night.  We’d hear Whippoorwills and other birds, and see deer, fish & other critters.  Next morning, we’d paddle to where the car was & head for home.

Unfortunately, my better half isn’t in to camping, or anything outdoorsey really.  ‘Roughing it’ to her is a motel with no room service & the doors to the room on the outside.  Oh well.

Thanks for the memories, dad.

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Trash TV

The call center I work in has a couple TV’s in the break room.  Popular shows range from game shows, ‘The Chew’, Judge Somebodyorother, sitcoms and, sadly, ‘trash TV’.  Shows hosted by people like Maury, Jerry Springer or Steve Wilkos.

You know the kind of program.  People who are looking for their 15 minutes of fame.  A parade of women who don’t know their ‘baby daddy’ is.  Couples accusing each other of infidelity.  A man (or woman) who wants an ‘open relationship’.  Men accused of fathering a raft of kids.  Incest?  One spouse sleeping with the others brother, sister, mother or child?  Slutty teen girls?  Middle aged ‘cougars’ and their underaged lovers?  Transsexuals who haven’t told their lover they had a bit chopped off, or added on?  No subject seems to low.

Personally, there’s no way you’d get me on a show like that.  The courtroom TV shows are bad enough, but to willingly air your dirty laundry, real or fake, on national TV boggles my mind.

How does this affect people in the long run, too?  Would you want to hire a man who’d just found out he was the father of his sister-in-law’s baby?  Or his babysitter’s?  What about the woman who keeps bringing man after man on the show, thinking one of them is the father of her little boy?

Men & women who are that promiscuous display, I believe, very poor judgement.  Certainly for any kind of sensitive position, behavior like that opens them up for blackmail.

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You can look at a map and see how big Texas is.  But you don’t really understand what that means until you’ve driven even part of it.

We went to visit mom recently, after dad’s passing.  We flew in to San Antonio, and drove a couple hours to get to out final destination.

First, driving through San Antonio was an adventure.  We’d crawl along for a ways, bumper to bumper.  Then things would clear up & you’d go like a bat out of hell for a while.  Before long though, you’d be back to crawling along for 5 or 10 minutes.  And again, traffic would clear up & you’d go ripping along, with cars racing past you like you were sitting still.  No thanks.

When we got to our final destination, it was much more what I’m used to.  A smaller city (much) with a nice, relaxed pace and sane drivers.

The trip back home, though, was when Texas’ size really hit.  We’d bought mom & dad’s car from them since she doesn’t drive any more.  We left _____ at around 10:15 Saturday morning.  The country where we were was very pretty.  We made a couple stops for fresh fruit and for some gag gifts for my better half’s family & friends, and for a late lunch, but were hoping to make it home for the night.  Fat chance.

By around 7, I was ready to stop for the day.  Even though we’d driven for the better part of 8 hours, we were still just outside Dallas.  Getting the rest of the way home took in to the afternoon the next day.

When we got home, I started looking at other options for our trip down this fall.  I don’t want to fly in to San Antonio again.  What about flying to ______?  No, it’s 7 hours from there to mom’s.  Damn…

So we’re going to drive down this fall.  It’s a different route, staying away from all the really huge cities.  It’ll mean a lot of driving, probably 12-14 hours, with me doing all the driving since we’ll be in the car with the manual tranny.  We might have to stay in some small town for the night that’ll have a hotel Mrs Right (who’s fairly Left) will like.  Of course for her, ‘Roughing it’ means a place with no room service, with outside entrances to the room, and no full breakfast.  Homewood Suites is about right for her.  :)  And she deserves it.

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First Father’s Day- without Dad

Father’s Day 2014 was the first one since my dad died, just last week.

I look back and remember the sacrifices both he & mom made for me.  I spent most of my school years at private school, including 4 years at Military School.    We took vacations, I certainly never lacked at Christmas or birthdays.  I had music lessons.  Dad started me on flying lessons.

I remember the vacations.  Several trips to Estes Park, Colorado.  Canoeing in the Ozarks, mostly along the Current River, and in Minnesota.  The USAF Museum in Dayton Ohio.  Disneyworld.  New York City.  Oregon.  The EAA Fly In up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

He taught me, or at least tried to, about home & car repair and investing.  I wish I’d paid more attention.

I learned to appreciate the outdoors.  The beauty of mountains, forests, rivers & lakes.

I got my political leanings from him.  Probably the first political newsletter I read was Human Events.  Before the print edition stopped publishing a year or so ago, I was a 3rd generation subscriber.  He & mom introduced me to classical music like Bach, Beethoven & Mozart, and took me to the theater for shows like ‘Music Man’, ‘Damn Yankees’ and ‘Desert Song’.  I learned who The Duke was.  I heard Reagan speak at the 1976 Republican Convention in Kansas City.

I know he was proud of me in some ways.  I know he was impressed with the woman I’m sharing my life with.  I know he was happy that I’ve decided to run for political office, even at the precinct committee level.  He was proud of my academic achievements in High School.

But I think I disappointed him, too.  I’ve certainly failed professionally.  I haven’t taken care of myself like I should have.  Maybe he would have wanted grandkids.

I love you, dad.  And I’m going to miss you.  Thank you.

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Are Vulcans Jewish?

Who knew that the Vulcan race from Star Trek might be Jewish?

Star Trek fans all recognize the Vulcan salute/greeting of paired fingers.  According to Leonard Nimoy, who’s played ‘Spock’ since the character was introduced, the origins of that salute lie in his own Jewish roots.  The Vulcan salute first appeared in the original series episode ‘Amok Time’.

Nimoy remembered going to Synagog when he was a child.  When the rabbi started praying, his father told him not to look up.  Being a boy, of course, he looked and saw the rabbi praying loudly & passionately.  His hands were spread out in what Trek fans recognize as the Vulcan salute.

Nimoy later learned that the paired fingers represented the Hebrew letter ‘Shin’, the first letter in ‘Shaddai’, God’s name, and also Shekhina, the feminine aspect of God which was created to live among mankind.  Of course, it’s also the first letter in ‘Shalom’ (Peace).

Most Christians bow our heads during prayer, but I’ve seen people raise both their heads & their hands.  I’d never thought too much about why heads are usually bowed other than it’s a sign of respect or submission.

According to Nimoy, this Shekhina comes in among the congregation during prayer, and its presence is so powerful that you could be injured or killed if you saw it.  Very similar to the O.T. story of Moses (Ex 33:20-23).

When filming the episode ‘Amok Time’, Nimoy thought there should be some kind of traditional greeting between Vulcans.  Westerners shake hands, in countries like Japan & China people bow as a sign of respect, so Vulcans should have their own tradition as well.  He suggested the paired fingers, and a tradition was born.

The Jewish Story behind Spock

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