Sunday, August 14, 2011

Please, fake it

You can fake anything and it works basically like the real thing, first everyone else believes you know what you are doing, then after a while you believe you know what you are doing, then one day you do know what you are doing.

I am the consummate faker I remember it all started when I was young.  My brother took my toy, I pushed him and he fell down, I immediately started crying so he would get in trouble.  It probably only worked about 1/3 of the time but that started my addiction with faking it.

Later I developed the skill further, when my family got home after staying late at friends, I pretended to be asleep so dad would carry me in and put me to bed.  I tried this the other day hoping my wife would carry me in, she just left me in the car to die.

By the time I was an adult I was a master faker, and the confidence I gained from believing I could, propelled me in life.  I faked being a world class ski racer, I believed I could be a world class ski racer, I became a world class ski racer.  I faked being a computer programmer, I believed I could program computers, I became a computer programmer.  Eventually I did not need the fake it stage and I could just believe in myself.  I believed I could have the woman of my dreams so I went out and married the woman of my dreams.

There are places where I still have to fake it though, like parenting.  The other day we were having breakfast and one of the boys says, “Dad, why don’t these eggs have chickens in them?”  I answered without thinking, “Because they haven't been fertilized.”  OK, have you noticed kids have radar for topics you don’t want to talk about?  His was going off, beep, beep, beep, “fertilize, what's that?”  I pop my head up now at full attention, damn, clearly I was not faking it right then and now I was going to have to pour it on…  Yeah, let’s just say even with all my powers of fakizoid I did not return alive from that failure.

Probably the most important place this works in marriage.  When you hit the tough spots you just have to fake it till you make it.  While yes there are cases where you need to get out of the relationship, abuse, addiction, lawlessness, etc… for the most part do not leave your marriage, you will not be happier.  All relationships hit a point where there is someone on the outside that looks like a better match, they are not.  I know, you feel you could never love them again, but you have to have blind faith you can and just stick with it.  Here is the deal, as long as you think you will be happier outside the relationship you will never be happy in the relationship.  Decide you are staying and it gets better immediately.

Oh yeah, never under estimate the power of faking an orgasm.  It can build confidence and put us back on the right track.  Just don’t do it too often or your partner might stop trying and then you'll never get the big O again.

My friend brought this up to me and he was right, in most situations, faking it is the same thing as doing it right.  You just have to pay attention to the people who know what they are doing and copy them.  Oh yeah, just remember, when faking it does not work it’s called lying.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Who

Damn I love that band.  I was introduced to Quadrophenia 25 years ago and I still listen to it regularly.  The London riots made me pull it out again.  Although the source of the discontent in Brighton in 1964 – 65, newscast on the album, was painted as a clash between “Rival gangs of Mods and Rockers” it was really no different than the riots today.  Both are the result of discontent amongst youth who feel their future is limited.  So in more than four decades, the youth are still in discontent.  Nothing has changed.

Will America to make the same mistakes?  There is no denying America is in some kind of decline.  I am not saying this will last I am only saying it is where we are right now.  England has been in a decline since when, 1900?  Some say WWII was the passing of the mantel from England to USA but by then they were bankrupt and relying on US credit to keep them afloat.  Japan had a great run as one of the top economies in the world but they fell prey to an asset bubble that burst in 1989 and have experienced a flat economy since.

The question we face, must America follow the path of former powers in decline or can we rebound and provide a climate where fantasies become reality again?  Is it possible to enjoy prosperity in times of slow growth that inevitably follow expansion?  A healthy economy requires too things, enough money in the system to go around and the money to go around fast enough that it is available for people to use.  So the fed is trying to save our economy by printing gobs of money but any economist will tell you, increasing the amount of money in the economy creates inflation. Inflation is basically too much money chasing too few goods making prices rise.  Think of it like supply and demand for money itself, if there is a bunch of money around, supply is high; price is low, so it takes more of money to trade for a pig.

Our problem is the second factor that impacts economic growth monetary velocity.  Monetary velocity is the rate at which people spend their money.  The faster money changes hands the more people get to use the money to buy something.  If a dollar is spent 6 times a day it’s like there are 6 dollars in circulation but if the first person puts it in a bank and bank does not lend it out, whoa, the buck stops there.  Spending money faster effectively means reducing personal savings rates.

Given how much money the fed is pumping into the system why aren’t we seeing inflation?  Where is all the money going?  Simple, you may remember personal savings was at an all-time low just a couple of years ago but now savings has returned to levels of the early 80s?  People are sticking their money in the bank.  Unfortunately the banks are not lending it out and this slows the velocity of money WAY down.  It is proving impossible to print us out of this mess because instead of spending that dollar 6 times it’s only getting spent 3 so the feds would have to double the amount of money in the system.

As a result, too little money is chasing too many goods fueling disinflation.  Disinflation is the opposite of inflation low supply of money = high price.  This means people would rather keep their money than buy the pig as a result prices drop to get people to part with their hoard.

You say wait, I am certain my bill at the grocery store went up last month.  Yes because it takes time for consumers to change their buying habits, particularly for necessities like food.  Once those behaviors change we are going to experience disinflation.  That might actually be a good thing for the dollar this time.  I wonder.  It will definitely be bad for business.

Do your part, charge up your credit cards againJ  Maybe then our kids will have a future and not loot the local best buy of flat screens and burn down my Chipotle.

Friday, August 12, 2011

[Guest blogger] Rebublican Circus

Thanks Joel, love the commentary since I could not be bothered to watch this circus.  Now at least I can vote.

Last night watching the debate, for some reason I was thinking about the lyrics to the Bloodhound Gang's song, The Bad Touch -  "You and me baby ain't nothin' but mammals, so let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel"

Just change "mammals" to "circus clowns" and "Discovery" to "Comedy" - and you have a sense of last night's debate. But of course that doesn't flow nearly as well. That's OK, cuz neither did the debate.

Two absolute howlers for me:
1) Moderator asks show of hands of who would walk away from a 10 to 1 spending cut to tax increase deal. Everyone raised their hands. Surprise! I was shocked that the follow up question wasn't "How many of you realize that Osama and Obama are only one letter different?"
2) Michelle Bachman is asked if she would be "submissive" to her husband in the White House. Huh? I skipped Auction Hunters for this! A Pox on your TiVo house!

The breakdown:

Tim sure had Pawlenty to say about Michelle Bachman. He claims she has no executive experience and hasn't accomplished much in Congress. Hmm . . . Hillary said the same about Obama about four years ago and look how that turned out.

Tim - I was actually worried about this guy a year ago. Now, he is just a whiner dropping in the polls. Put a fork in him. He's done.

Newt - amazing that I can intellectually respect a guy that I disagree with on almost everything. Newt - you are SO last Millennium. Sorry, dude. You are 2000 and Late!

Michelle B - The Wicked Witch of the North, probably got the most out of the debate, but if I'm Obama, I'm sending her money. I want to run against her. She got more brain cells that Palin (OK that ain't saying much) but she is just plain frightening. Those eyes! OMG! I think she might be possessed by Aliens or something. And the swagger - worse that Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men - "You want me in the White House. You need me in the White House" - "You can't handle the truth"

Slick Rick (Santorum)- engaging, mildly entertaining, but the most eloquent thing out of his mouth was "We are a nation. We have values" - in reference to the 10th Amendment. Nice job trying to juxtapose gay marriage against state's trying to opt out of Obamacare. I got it, but he should have saved it for the general election. Of course, he won't be relevant by then, so . . .

Ron Paul - failed in the Music Trivia portion of the event. He mixed up Flock of Seagulls ("I Ran, I Ran so far away") with the Beach Boys ("Bomb,Bomb, Bomb. Bomb-Iran")

Mitt - BORING! I think there is an infomercial missing a spokesperson somewhere. He is probably the biggest threat to Obama's re-election ATM but what a snoozer. Makes Michael Dukakis look positively invigorating. Will moderate/corporate Republicans be able to stay awake long enough to get this cat nominated? Will Tea Party and social conservatives be able to hold their noses and just do it on Election Day?

Herman Cain, John Huntman - I honestly can't recall a single thing these guys said. They might as well not have been there. Like Rick Perry.

And speaking of Rick Perry. I'm glad he was a no-show for this one. I mean, what is there to be excited about? He is running second in polls to Mr Mitt. Oh boy! Another white male from Texas. How original! I wonder if he is better spoken than the last two (some father - son act that will not be named).

The only two political voices from Texas that ever made sense to me were Anne Richards and Molly Ivins (I miss them both very much; may they rest in peace).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

13 things I learned my first month blogging

I wrote my first blog on July 11 the day after I was released from the hospital.  Writing my first 31 blogs was very educational.  All you have to do is read some older posts to see I needed practice.  There are 13 lessons from the last 31 days that stick out for me:

1.      I am a crappy writer

2.      Dedication is hard – I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to take a night off in the last 31 days.  Thinking of a topic, doing the research, writing it, proofing it, proofing it again, and again, makes you want to take a night off.  Given you are accountable to no one it’s hard to keep going.

3.      Quality is hard – I think maybe 20% of my blogs are worth reading at all and only a few am I proud of writing.

4.      Writing is hard – writing is one of the most crucial skills in life and few people are good at it.  Practice it every day and your email will get better and you will succeed at things.

5.      No matter how many times you proof you will find mistakes after you publish. Corollary: Word does a crappy job checking grammar.

6.      People will read your blog

7.      People will hate your blog

8.      People will fear your blog

9.      People will love your blog

10.  Best of all people will think you’re crazy

11.      Traffic does not matter, everything else does

12.      All image searches have at least one porn shot in their results

13.      I am not as crappy a writer as I was

Being a dedicated blogger will increase your discipline and focus across all aspects of your life and make you more successful.

Stop being a wimp; dedicate yourself to something tough, it will change your life.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I've had enough schooling to be dumb

Erik Kennedy, who I work with, said this to me and it occurred to me how right he was, not about him, he is very smart, but about America.  I have noticed America feels we have this god given right to superiority.  Militarily (Duh), Innovatively (Duh), Financially (Duh, oh wait), Democratically (Duh, can you say republic?), Educationally, etc…  Here is the deal though, because we teach to the middle, we are at risk of losing our god given superiority, at risk of becoming slaves to the lowest common denominator and losing our unique style.

I have 3 boys in grade school.  They are good at some subjects, great at others and average at the remaining.  All students are like this it’s just some kids are great, amazing and good at subjects while some are making it, good and struggling with different classes falling into the different buckets.  How do the teachers respond?  Teachers respond by increasing the amount of home work so they can slow down class to focus on the lower performing students so no one gets left behind.  Remember no one gets left behind also means no one gets ahead.  They are even cutting out recess to get more teaching time, like that helps.

This has the unfortunate impact of reducing the amount of free playtime.  That’s why I call it the no child gets to play outside act.  Did you know that grade school boys can only concentrate for 90 minutes before they need to run around and reset themselves?  Girls, 2 hours.  Additionally, free play is where we learn to concentrate for long periods of time.  This is why TV, Internet, and video games are so bad for you they foster short concentration cycles.  Playing imaginary games in the woods with friends takes hours of concentration but disguises it as fun.  Hell, I spent hours, probably months of time, building dams when I was a kid.  Every time there was a stream or river my brother and I built a dam.  When we got board of that, we floated things down the river, probably another few months of my life spent there.  It’s the free time that made me as smart as I am, which, many of you know, is moderate at best, but imagine how dumb I would be if I had spent all my time in class and studying?

This is why Erik’s comment, I have had just enough school to be dumb struck me so.  Kids are actually slowed down to fit with the masses or sped up, depending on the topic, and then specifically pulled out of the most important learning, free time.  Without the combination of formal education and open ended free time you become dumb.  How do you really learn about gravity if it is not by throwing rocks?  You don’t.  Sure you can say you can teach parabolic math to anyone but is it really the same?  Fluid dynamics without sticks and dams?  And worst of all, how do you learn to interact, to negotiate, without all those hours deciding what to do with that glorious free time.  I remember sneaking into the abandoned mining museum, that was so cool, like we were archeologists exploring an unknown civilization.  When was the last time you were an archeologist?  Do it, and smarten up your kids so I get to keep my cheap TVs.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

They call me Manskills

I have man skills. It’s not that I am that manly, I am really kind of average on that front, but I can fix most things and kill spiders.  Recently, after killing a HUGE spider I was officially christened Manskills.  This is a good nick name to have.  When you are at the mall and your wife calls out, hey manskills, and she is clearly referring to you, your stock goes up for everyone in ear shot.  Men look at your with envy over such a cool nick name, women look at you with longing, longing that you would come and fix her leaky toilet.  Oh yeah, and maybe paint the master closet.

I live in a neighborhood where men pride themselves in hiring in the help to do anything manly and the women brag about not being able to cook.  It’s this bizarre twist in showing how snooty you are.  Well here is the thing, the more seriously white color your job is the bigger your manskills multiplier.  In other words if you are a plumber and you have manskills everyone says, duh, but if you are CEO and you know how to build your kid’s play set you get a huge multiplier, I am not sure how big as I have never seen this, but I have to figure it doubles your attractiveness.  Not that it matters you can have any man, woman, or donkey you want when you are worth over a billion I am betting.

There is a list of manskills.  For your wife to knight you, using a large shop wrench, with the title manskills you must have 42 out of 53 of the skills.  While I do not have enough space to iterate all of them here I will list the most valuable:

Vermin removal – no wife is going to empty the mouse trap much less the rat trap.

BBQing – If you cannot BBQ the title cannot be yours.  I do not mean beef sticks and flying saucers I mean leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic au jus.

Bug assassination – some women will stoop to this level and take action themselves but most want Sir Kills Alot to handle all activities that involve burials.

Back rubs –you of course realize this is all she wants, oh and foot massages, to melt in your hands right?  Just 10 minutes twice a month and your bedroom voltage will double.

Electrical repairs – anyone who has ever tried to wire a three way switch knows electricity is not child’s play, the diagram is more complicated than a rocket launcher and inevitably you get shocked.  Try not to be grounded when you do get shocked; it hurts way more then.

Excrement scooping – no description needed except our dog drops at least 3 times a day, how do I get to be that regular?

As with all titles you must have one talent and it has to be something artistic.  Most guys opt for the manly guitar but piano, painting, and poetry are equally valued.  One note, generally the accordion will not count as filling this category.

For bonus points you must have the ability to make people of all social status, contractors, construction workers, customs agents, bankers, executives, politicians, doctors, etc. all laugh and feel at ease when they are with you.

The best thing about being tagged with the label is I get to list items that are then identified as her tasks.  They can even be on the potential list of manskills they just cannot have been on your list when you were knighted.  I, for one, put bills on the list of womanly duties, she is great at it and I, to be honest, hate it.  Performing this task only shows me how inadequate I am at managing money.  I feel so much less manly when I do tasks I am bad at.

Oh yeah, and no, looking at hot women is not on the list of skills but it may make you live longer.

Monday, August 8, 2011


We try to avoid encouraging bad behavior in our kids but despite our best efforts they learn things that will inevitably embarrass us parents. This is why when they are teenagers we do everything in our power to embarrass them like driving them to school in our PJs, signing up to chaperone the Sadie Hawkins dance and then teach the kids to do the sprinkler.

I first came to realize the extent to which our children will go to completely embarrass us when I was 14.  I was living with my aunt and uncle the summer after my dad died to take some of the load off my mom, she was a rock star but everyone can use a little help.  This meant I got to learn the best form of embarrassment from my nephew, Casey.  He learned from the best.  That summer they bought the Steve Martin tape “Wild and Crazy Guy” to entertain Casey in the car.  One day at the local Safeway, my Aunt Nece and I are cruising down the aisle and Casey sings out, one perfect tune “Grandpabought a rubber”.  Of course Nece is horrified but I can’t help but snigger and that provides Casey the proof he should repeat until his mother is in tears.  Grandpa bought a rubber.  Grandpa bought a rubber.  Grandpa bought a rubber.  Grandpa bought a rubber.  Grandpa bought a rubber.  Grandpa bought a rubber.  Grandpa bought a rubber.  Grandpa bought a rubber.  Grandpa bought a rubber.  Are you in tears yet?  Me, I just used the opportunity to drop a box of Captain Crunch in the cart. 

Now that is definately not bone

Many years later, like 30 or something, I am a parent and my youngest is at Montessori school.  The teacher is teaching the children about their skeleton and is asking the kids to feel their hands.  She asks, can you feel the bones?  By son says, I can REALLY feel my penis bone.  Can you say parent teach conference? 

It’s funny how as toddlers we have PERFECT comedic timing, again my youngest, my memory is failing so the embarrassing stuff my older kids did slipped my mind, literally, decides a dinner party with our neighbors is the time to pour on cute so he sings: 

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are.
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder BUTTOCKS!

Buttocks, really?  Where does he get this stuff? 

Truth be told I laughed my ass off at all of these. Sure the other parents scowl at me when I don’t discipline my little one for saying what they clearly see as inappropriate things, to that all I can say is at least he doesn’t get his lines from Chris Rock.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Are you doing your part, keeping up with the Jones'

Are you green?  You know the green I am talking about, the green with envy you get when you see your neighbor drive up in their new Prius?  Oh how you wish you could be green right?  Well stop right now because there are a few ways to have a big impact on going green and buying a new car is not one of them.

Manufacturing a new car produces at least 6 tons of carbon.  In fact the smallest base Citroen produces 6 tons, a Prius 10 tons a Ford Taurus 17 tons, and a Land Rover Discover 35 tons.  Burning a gallon of gas produces 19 pounds of carbon.  The Prius has been shown to save about 200 gallons a year of Camry and Corolla drivers.  So simple math will tell you driving a Prius saves 200 * 19 = 3800 lbs of carbon production which will take 10tons / 3800 = 5 years to offset just the manufacturing.  Take into account the unknown of the battery disposal and the opportunity cost of purchasing the new Prius which could be put into carbon credits and offset 100s of families’ carbon production and a Prius is a HUGE polluter.

So, let’s look at three things you could do that would actually make a difference:

1.       Take public transportation to work – this saves almost all the carbon from your car but I realize for some people this just is not realistic because of kids or schedule or location.  In that case move closer to work.  I have seen many Prius drivers commuting up to 100 miles each way to work and back, nothing green in that…  Seriously, I live 6 miles from work, if a Prius driver lives 60 miles from work I save 100 miles a day.  At that rate I can drive a Ferrari to work and never emit as much carbon into the atmosphere as the Prius driver.  Seriously, the Ferrari would burn about .5 gallon from my house and the Prius would burn about 1.5 from their house so every day the Prius is digging the driver further in the carbon hole.  Just keep your Camry and move closer to work, talk about saving!

2.       Make your house more efficient – this can save as much as driving a whole car if your house is not fuel efficient already.  Start with adding more insulation, then insulate your hot water heater, take shorter showers, plant more trees around your house, then if you have to change your windows, then as a last resort update your furnace and hot water heater.  You might need to update appliances but see the Prius conversation to understand how shaky that could be WRT saving carbon in the end.

3.       Don’t travel – no seriously, this will save you lots of carbon production, 1 ton per flight.  There are plenty of things to do around your town, take advantage of them.

So next time you feel yourself getting green with envy remember this and get the smug look on your face when you realize you are taking your savings, hoping Sound Transit and going out.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

To blog ot not to blog

To blog, or not to blog, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The public ridicule of open diolog,
Or to bow our heads from public view,
And by bowing become invisible?  To wane, to vanish,
No more; and by vanish to say ne'er to have been
The heart-ache, and the thousand virtual shocks
That avitar is heir to: 'tis an end game
Devoutly to be wished. To wane, to vanish;
To vanish, perchance to fantisize – ay, there's the rub:
For in that mortality of invisibility what fantisies may come,
When we have winked out of this mortal coil,
Must give us pause – there's the belief
That makes hubris of empty virtual life.
For who would bear the flames and mokery of replys,
The trolls brutality, the proud author's patronization,
The pangs of disprized humor, the moderator's delay,
The insolence of anonimity, and the spam
That patient merit of the unworthy post,
When he himself might his vanishing make
With a bare insult? Who would pick such a joy,
To ponder and toil under a scrutiny of the masses,
But that the dread of nothing after vanishing from the ether,
The undiscovered world from whose social circle
No profile returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills of blogging
Than fly to nothingness that we so dispise?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the dispair of deciding
Is sicklied o'er with 140 characters of thought,
And entries of truth and life,
With this regard their trends turn awry,
And lose the name of action. Soft you now,
The fair moderator! Friend, in thy begging
Be all my posts remembered

Friday, August 5, 2011

Why I hate you

OK, I do not hate you, I probably do not even know you but I have heard this word a bunch in media and in conversation of late.

I do not hate anyone.  I do even hate my old best friend who ran off with my first wife.  Why not?  Hate does not add to my life.  Look at it like this, its a glorious sunny day and you are on the beach does thinking, see that guy over there with the big pec's man I hate him.  Does that make your day better?  mmm, yes, I know, cradling that hate like a cup of coco on a dreary winter day, it just makes you warm inside doesn't it;-)

Seriously, when did America lose the tolerance that is the very seed of our existence?  I think we have been on a downward slide for more than 100 years.  Now days I am afraid to announce my religion or political affiliation on a bumper sticker because it might incite someone to key my car.  I can't talk about these things at work, it might risk a future job opportunity.  In fact, it has been suggested my blog will put future positions at risk and that is sad.  My blog takes my life's failures and observations and uses them to showcase the lessons we can all learn.  Was I stupid in my youth, duh, we all were, the only question is did you learn anything from your idiocy?

I have this funny picture in my head of our forefathers arguing about freedom of religion or all men are created equal.  I can see it had to be a throw down, like some episode of the three stooges.  Can you see Madison throwing the one hand block on Washington as Washington tried to jab Madison in the eyes?  nyah, nyah, nyah, then he gets past the defense using 2 hands...  Seriously, can you imagine the monstrous arguments they had and still respected each other enough to come to the table day in and day out to form our government?  That is tolerance, that is respect for diversity.

In fact perhaps that is the problem its not tolerance we need but absolute respect for diversity.  I do not mean the the big 4, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, those are givens.  I mean respect for diversity of style one person uses confrontation as a catalyst and one avoids confrontation, neither is better and depending on the situation either could be more useful.  Detail oriented vs big picture, organized vs unstructured, rigid vs flexible, missionary vs masochistic, they are just differences.  I learned long ago if you new about everyone's sex life you would never respect anyone again.  At this personal level everyone is either lame or crazy.  Can't we just see each other as different and appreciate that as the joy of life?