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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday

I only have something simple to say today. Saturday morning and the smell of fresh coffee is simply magical!!

Foshinator

Thursday, April 14, 2011

"Mr. Jamey! How am I gonna feed my kids?"

I just spent the last week battling a very debilitating case of pneumonia. Two phone calls, and one trip to the doctor, and I'm recovering quite nicely thank you. Easy? No. In hindsight though, a fairly simple process. Yesterday, I gave the medical community 80 dollars, pharmacy included, and I'll be on my merry way quickly. 80 dollars. When I get my Blue Cross Blue shield report I'll be grateful that I didn't have to pay about 200 to 225 dollars out of pocket.
I woke up about 5:30 this morning and that 200 dollar number triggered something in me. From early 2004 until late in 2007, I worked in the Buy Here Pay Here auto industry. Those are the car lots that "Tote The Note" on the cars they sell. Certainly we financed cars for people who were very irresponsible, but the vast majority of our clients were very good folks, who were just struggling to get by month to month or in many cases week to week. At the time we had around a 1.2 million dollar portfolio, so I have a vast range clients on which I base my judgments.
I primarily oversaw underwriting (deciding who and how we would finance a car) and collections. One particular client came to my mind this morning. We will call her Jane for the purposes of privacy. Jane was in her early 30s, had two young children, and was a single parent. I knew her financial status and she couldn't afford health insurance.
It was unusual for Jane to get very behind on her weekly payment. She came in on Fridays, almost every week, when her payment was due. I knew her financial situation was precarious, because sometimes she would call me on Thursday to let me know she couldn't pay that week, and would take care of two payments the following Friday. I was fine with that and, we had a procedure in place to do that for people we felt were reliable. We called them Promise to Pay and Jane had never missed one. One Friday Jane had a Promise to Pay of two payments and didn't show up or call. That always raised a "red flag" with me, so on Monday I tried to call her. Her phone was cut off, which raised another "red flag".
I went to her home that Monday afternoon and Jane was very ill. She had missed work and had to pay her doctor, totally out of pocket so she could get well and go back to work. I agreed to let her float the week until Friday when she would owe three payments (75 dollars), but I agreed to accept two payments of 50 and let her catch up after that. Friday came and went and Jane didn't come. Monday I issued the order to repo her car. I called the repo man and within a few hours I had Jane's car and some of her property in the car.
When we opened Tuesday morning Jane was waiting on me. I invited her in and we sat down to talk. She was visibly angry (not at me) and scared and trying not to cry. Here's her story. She had to pay her doctor 200 dollars for treatment, and then not being able to work, she had gotten even further behind. It was now going to cost her 200 dollars, including the repo charges, to get her car back. She didn't have the money, and wouldn't anytime soon. All I could was tell her I was sorry and that my hands were tied. She had to have that car to get to work. Her words, "Mr. Jamey! How am I gonna feed my kids?" have resonated with me ever since. I had to look her in the eye and say, "I don't now.".
Jane is a good person who did the right things, and stood by her word. Circumstances beyond her control put her in a situation that didn't allow her to do the right thing. I've often wondered what happened to Jane and her kids.
200 dollars. That figure hit me like a punch in the gut this morning. This is why I became a Progressive Liberal.  Four years of those kinds of experiences changed me profoundly.  There are people out there who, through no fault of their own, just can't make it sometimes, and we as a nation need to find ways to help.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961


I think this bears reading and heading - Foshinator

My fellow Americans: 

Three days from now, after half a century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor.
This evening I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.
Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.
Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the Nation.
My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and, finally, to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years.
In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the national good rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the Nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling, on my part, of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.
II.
We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts America is today the strongest, the most influential and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.
III.
Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace; to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity and integrity among people and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt both at home and abroad.
Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology -- global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger is poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle -- with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.
Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.
But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs -- balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage -- balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.
The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of stress and threat. But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. I mention two only.
IV.
A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.
Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present
  • and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientifictechnological elite.
It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.
V.
Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.
VI.
Down the long lane of the history yet to be written America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect.
Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.
Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war -- as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years -- I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But, so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.
VII.
So -- in this my last good night to you as your President -- I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.
You and I -- my fellow citizens -- need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nation's great goals.
To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration:
We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.

An Invasion from Mars: Get your feet up and don't move - Dave Barry

(I thought this appropriate to post in light of my recent bout of the same flu. - Foshinator)

We have the flu. I don't know if this particular strain has an official name, but if it does, it must be something like "Martian Death Flu." You may have had it yourself. The main symptom is that you wish you had another setting on your electric blanket, up past HIGH, that said ELECTROCUTION.
Another symptom is that you cease brushing your teeth, because (a) your teeth hurt, and (b) you lack the strength. Midway through the brushing process, you'd have to lie in front of the sink to rest for a couple of hours, and rivulets of toothpaste foam would dribble sideways out of your mouth, eventually hardening into crusty little toothpaste stalagmites that would bond your head permanently to the bathroom floor, which is how the police would find you.

You know the kind of flu I'm talking about.

I spend a lot of time lying very still, thinking flu-related thoughts. One insight I have had is that all this time, scientists have been telling us the truth: Air really is made up of tiny objects called "molecules." I know this because I can feel them banging against my body. There are billions and billions and billions of them, but if I concentrate, I can detect each individually, striking my body, especially my eyeballs, at speeds upwards of 100,000 miles per hour. If I try to escape by pulling the blanket over my face, they attack my hair, which has become almost as sensitive as my teeth.

There has been a mound of blankets on my wife's side of the bed for several days now, absolutely motionless except that it makes occasional efforts to spit into a Kleenex. I think it might be my wife, but the only way to tell for sure would be to prod it, which I wouldn't do even if I had the strength, because if it turned out that it was my wife, and she were alive, and I prodded her, it would kill her.
Me, I am leading a more active lifestyle. Three or four times a day, I attempt to crawl to the bathroom. Unfortunately this is a distance of nearly 15 feet, with a great many air molecules en route, so at about the halfway point, I usually decide to stop and get myself into the fetal position and hope for nuclear war. Instead, I get Earnest. Earnest is our dog. She senses instantly that something is wrong, and, guided by that timeless and unerring nurturing instinct all female dogs have, she tries to lick my ears off.

For my son, Robert, this is proving to be the high point of his entire life to date. He has had his pajamas on for two, maybe three days now. He has the sense of joyful independence a 5-year-old gets when he suddenly realizes that he could be operating an acetylene torch in the coat closet, and neither parent would have the strength to object. He has been foraging for his own food, which means his diet consists entirely of "food" substances that are advertised only on Saturday-morning cartoon shows; substances that are the color of jukebox lights, and for legal reasons, have their names spelled wrong, as in New Creemy Chok-'n'-Cheez Lumps o' Froot ("part of this complete breakfast").

Crawling around, my face inches from the carpet, I sometimes encounter traces of colorful wrappers Robert has torn from these substances, and dropped on the floor, where Earnest, always on patrol, has found them and chewed them into spit-covered wads. I am reassured by this. It means they are both eating.
The Martian Death Flu has not been an entirely bad thing. Since I cannot work, or move, or think, I have been able to spend more Quality Time with Robert, to come up with creative learning activities we can enjoy and share together. Today, for example, I taught him, as my father had taught me, how to make an embarrassing noise with your hands. Then we shot rubber bands at the contestants on "Divorce Court." Then, just in case some parts of our brains were still alive, we watched professional bowling. Here's what televised professional bowling sounds like when you have the flu:

PLAY-BY-PLAY MAN: He left the 10-pin, Bob.
COLOR COMMENTATOR: Yes, Bill. He failed to knock it down.
PLAY-BY-PLAY MAN: It's still standing up.
COLOR COMMENTATOR: Yes. Now he must try to knock it down.
PLAY-BY-PLAY MAN: You mean the 10-pin, Bob?

The day just flew by. Soon it was 3:30 p.m., time to crawl back through the air molecules to the bedroom, check on my wife or whoever that is, and turn in for the night.
Earnest was waiting about halfway down the hall.
"Look at this," the police will say, when they find me. "His ears are missing."

By Dave Barry

Friday, April 8, 2011

SMILE - THE BEACH BOYS

Not to be confused with the Brian Wilson release of SMILE in 2004, The Beach Boys will be releasing the SMILE SESSIONS this year.  Oh Rapture! Oh Joy!!  I became a fan of the Beach Boys when I was 13. I bought the Endless Summer album and fell in love.  Then I discovered how recording studios worked, and realized that the mixes used on Endless Summer were not meant to be in stereo.  Wilson's mono mixes are brilliant, and they studio musicians they used, "The Wrecking Crew", are masterful. (Thank you Carol Kaye for emailing me occasionally.) 

Now on to SMILE.  This project was abandoned when Brian Wilson had his breakdown in 1968 and with few exceptions he never returned to the project with The Beach Boys.  Now Capital is releasing highlights of the 50+ studio sessions, and have enough material to present a somewhat complete Smile album.  Rock historians and Beach Boys geeks (yes I am both) consider this the Holy Grail of unreleased material.

Why did I blog about this?  Cuz I can!  Cuz I'm excited! Cuz I like to SMILE!!!

Foshinator

Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Obama Sign

Still voting for OBAMA even though you stole my sign.

Way back in 2008 I went through my usual routine, except this year I had changed parties.  I spent lots of time researching the candidates, searching my heart for my philosophy, and settled on two.  Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were my choices.  Long story short, I jumped on the Obama band wagon, and did my usual small amount of campaigning.  I talk to people, and I get bumpers stickers and yard signs.  A funny thing happened with the yard sign.  No matter how many Obama signs I put up, someone would steal them.  I actually found that sad, a bit creepy, and I made it my cause to keep a sign up.  Finally I put up the sign you see, and guess what?  I know!  What a surprise!  It was stolen again.  I'm so glad we have a picture of it.

In 1808 Thomas Jefferson wrote to Richard M. Johnson and said the following:
  •  "It has been a source of great pain to me to have met with so many among [my] opponents who had not the liberality to distinguish between political and social opposition; who transferred at once to the person, the hatred they bore to his political opinions."

To the Facebook friend or friends who reported me as spammy or offensive.  I offer no apology for my ideals.  We may differ in ideology, but we don't differ in what we want for our country.  I just think there is a different way to get there than you do.  If you value our rights to free speech, then please don't squelch mine.  It's very simple to just "unfriend" me and leave it at that.  I love reading and listening to opposing views.  I, yes, "hear me", I watch Glenn Beck.  I generally don't agree with him, but I don't try to shut him down. (Obviously I'm not sad to see him go.) Please give me the same respect.

Let the sign stealing begin!!!
Foshinator



Two sides of "Craptacular"

I have a "bug" of some sort, that is making me feel CRAPTACULAR. My friend Deanna coined that phrase, and I love it. I feel miserable. Not Martian Death Flu miserable (Dave Berry), but fever, achy, can't talk miserable. That is the "crap" part.
The "Tacular" part is wonderful. Even in my Non-Martian Death Flu misery, there are some TACULAR things happening. It is possible to "live it out" (ask if you wish to know what IT is) even when confined. I've had great chats, via my Blackberry (Rubber Ducky, you're the one! - Ernie), with people who need a cheerful word, and even some who need a kick in the pants
Here's the take away. Almost everyday has "crap" in it, so why not take that, add some "Tacular" and make it a CRAPTACULAR DAY!!
Foshinator

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Two Sided Coins

Have you ever been duped flipping coins?  You know.  The guy who shows up.  You flip for quarters, and then it hits you.  He's got a two sided coin!  That completely takes the fun out of it.  I remember standing out on the lot at Wilmes Ford and flipping quarters.  Sometimes I'd be so far ahead of everyone I could see no way I'd be back to nothing.  Then it would happen.  The guy next to me had all my quarters.  Ugh.  I wouldn't change it though.  That's what made it fun.

There is usually at least two sides to every issue or problem.  To look at them one dimensionally usually creates a bigger problem.  A good businessman will ask for advice from multiple people with differing views, and ask them not to be yes men/women (see I can be politically correct).  I've never liked playing with a two sided coin (even if I had it), and I prefer to look at both sides of it to truly learn what it can do.

Foshinator

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Should I fear this?

     In some ways I fear this blog.  I will sharing publicly things I don't usually share with the general populace of my friends.  In some ways this takes you, the reader, from being a casual friend or acquaintance to a closer friend.  Certainly I will not share things, that only my intimates are privy to, but I will be sharing more than most folks get from their outer circle of friends.
     I suppose "bloggers" have just enough ego to think that their contribution is important, or they wouldn't take the time to write.  Confession is good for the soul, so I confess that I believe I have some things to say, that may benefit your life.  That alludes to another fear.  "Who does this guy think he is?"  Just a guy who thinks his opinions matter, just as much as your opinions matter.
     Will I lose the respect of some folks who might read this?  I suppose I will if they aren't able to agree to disagree.  I'm a big believer in Romans 14!!  Go read it if that doesn't convey any message for you.
     So with some fear, and great anticipation, I await any reactions my musings my generate.  I also await being humbled by never being read!!

Foshinator (Thanks for the moniker Mr. Kidd!)

Let's try this again

Sometime within the dark recesses of 2009 I made a very feeble ( deficient in qualities or resources that indicate vigor, authority, force, or efficiency- Merriam Webster) attempt at blogging.  Feeble because I wasn't sure what to blog about.  Should I be Mr. Topical (not like a cream), or should I just give random thoughts of Jameyness that creep up from time to time.  Since that later is more in keeping with what people have come to expect from me, then "So let it be written.  So let it be done".