Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

I was negligent in doing cards this year, so I e-mailed this. Got it to a lot more folks that I would have via snail mail.



Well, mailing Christmas cards is a no-win at this point, as I realized last night, so I thought I'd take a shot at making my own.

The image above is one I found on rummaging through the Interweb. The animation of the water and the reflection resonated with me, and I think it's the best image I can share with you.



First, I hope this finds you and all of yours warm, safe, happy and well. After all, it has been one of the strangest years I can remember, what with the Cubs winning the World Series.

Here at home, it has been a mixed year. I have a decent part time gig at the Manheim Auto Auction, which pretty much consists of find the car, drive the car, park the car, in a 500+ acre lot holding several thousand cars. Some days I wind up walking several miles, so it provides some exercise.

In general, we are all warm and safe. However, it has been a tough year for the critters. Suzu, my sweet little girl Shiba left us in April. She had been failing slowly for a while, then started to crash in March. I was trying to feed her and get her to drink from a syringe during her last week, but when a Shiba says "No", it means "No!" Turns out she'd had a stroke and her kidneys were failing, so, in consult with the vet, I let her go.

Two months ago, Griffin, my rescue Shiba, went in for a dental cleaning and exam. Whilst he was unconscious, the vet was able to give him a full exam, which was not something you could do while he was awake. Both his knees are 'blown', and he wound up losing all of his teeth. I felt awful about that, but, as the vet suggested, since the extractions, he's been a much happier dog. It seems to have taken a couple of years off his age! (The report I got of his mouth is best summed up as "horror show".)

Finally, the vet also confirmed that Baxter is blind. We did a full blood work-up to see if anything suggested itself as the cause, only to find that he is in really good shape for a cat of 17!

I didn't get as much work done around here as I would have liked to, and gardening suffered a bit, too. I did get quite a harvest of Oregano, Thai Hot and Ghost peppers. The early hail took its toll on the potatoes, which, along with strawberries, were the only other things I planted.  I did wind up with a slew of 'wild' tomatoes, from seeds left from previous plantings and contributions to the compost bin.

Bottom line is that all is good. I feel blessed to have a warm, safe happy place for me and the critters, and for family and friends around the country.

Here's hoping that your Christmas is merry and bright!

Lee (and Grif, Benny, Baxter, Nadia and Missy)

P.S. If you've a mind to, our adventures in Red Lion are chronicled here: Window on Red Lion, and my curmudgeonly rantings and musings are here: Leelu's Place

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Baxter

Baxter and I got back from the vet a few minutes ago. Here's what I sent to Jen and friends:
Got Baxter to the vet this morning. He confirmed what I suspected, Baxter is blind. His pupils are responsive to light. which suggests that there was, possibly, a stroke.
We're doing a full blood workup to see if something suggests itself. At his age (17), the likely candidate is kidney issues, followed by a thyroid problem. The goal is to reduce blood pressure, and get his weight back up (he's down to 7 lbs).
The vet suggested an ophthamology consult. But I can't see Baxter wearing glasses.
Should have the results Monday.
Sigh.
Baxter helping me in the office, about a year ago.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Hello, World

Well, as you probably know by now, the election is over.

Yay.

Somewhere about the time of my last post, I burned out. I began to dread going to work - there, I got to listen to Rush, and my co-workers' thoughts and opinions. I love the people I work with, but conversations based on the crap fed to those who watch/listen the media are, I find, depressing.

Media Rules:
  1. EVERYTHING is entertainment.
  2. Everything is designed to get eyeballs and ears on the Product.
  3. You are what the media sells in order to make money.
  4. Follow the money - who pays the media?
It seems mostly that the rabble are being roused and the set loose, bumping into walls and veering off in a new direction like an old robot toy. But to do what? I found myself saying to they guys, "OK. I agree, X is horrible and terrible. What are You, personally, going to do about it? How are you going to take action to stop/change/fix X?"

Mostly, making friends with shoes happened.

So, anyway, now the really fun part - the actual governing of a highly divided citizenry. If you thought the yelling and screaming from the politicians, pundits, and media was bad before, "Wait for it." (Radar O'Reilly)

I shall sum up my feeling about it visually:









More, later.  (Maybe invest in popcorn futures...)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Pinned (For Now) (Bumped)

I know the guy is wearing a shirt w/ the Euro flag on it, but this still apples to us. #ObamasLegacy

#ArmUp

Coming soon to an event near you.

Via Gerard.

Update, via Weasel Zippers:

 One every four days or so. So, there's that.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fifteen Years...



Live coverage starts at 22:11 - (Part 1 of 13. Part 2 starts automatically.)


The BBC's coverage, which I found myself watching more than any U.S. channel when I got home that night:


Arm up.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Buy A Nun A Book Day

...is approaching once again - September 17.  Once again, I will be sending books to the good Holy Names Sisters who taught me in my callow youth.



It's a nice way to say "Thanks"!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Relationship Notes...

...found at Gerard's

Better to ask "How bad is it?" (Have box of tissues and/or body armor at hand.)


No reply is your first clue...

Some Thoughts on ITT Tech...

As you might know, I moved back to the East Coast in 2007, to take a job as a full-time instructor of Linux at ITT Tech in Owings Mills, Md. That job helped to start my climb out of the nuclear crater that my life had become in Southern California.

This is the Owings Mills campus, where I worked for about 3 1/2 years.
 
When I started there, it was a campus under development. The first graduation I attended had 19 graduates. The school was just over 2 years old. In the first two years I was there, enrollment grew from around 400 to over 1,000, and more faculty came on board. We had over 40 full-time instructors, more than any other camps in the system. That made us an expensive campus to maintain. Assuming my salary was about average (mid $50s), they were looking at an academic payroll in the neighborhood of $2 million. This was fine as long as we were high rolling and growing. For a while, we were the darling of the system - everyone should be like us.

Of course, that stopped. Say what you will but it started to roll off right after the 2008 election. One of the ladies in the career center told me that job openings dried up, because employers were uncertain about the economy. And, enrollments started to level off.

By 2010, things started to change. The new dean was a 'fixer', brought in to turn the campus around.( Or get the regional manager's bonus money back up to where it was before 2009. We're not sure, but that was the bet.)  Those of us who had worked in real corporate jobs could see it coming and couldn't stop it. The best we could do was hang on until the inevitable firing for cause. (Cheaper, no unemployment benefits that way.)

Let me explain how all that worked.

First rule of any business - cash in must exceed cash out. A $2 million plus yearly instructor bill was the first place to look. Do the math. I taught 24 classes per year, four terms, six classes each. That worked out to (approximately) $2,300 per class. Top paid adjunct made $1,500 per class. And were more easily disposed of - no firings, just "Sorry, don't have any classes for you..." They were required to have full time instructors, but that requirement was satisfied by the Department Chairs, who were also required to take a teaching load.

So, how could they sweep us out? Easy.

The first couple of years in business, the school was able to reach the target demographic - people in their early 20s who were working somewhere as "assistant managers", wearing a name tag and working un-Godly hours because they were "management".  My experience with these folks was that  they were generally good students, and were fairly well prepared for a two-year college level program.  But it seemed like they started to run out of these candidates not too long after I arrived on campus. We started getting what we snidely referred to as "the cream of the Baltimore City school system". And the Maryland Correctional system.

The problems we faced were not because they were from Baltimore, or had been incarcerated. The problem, in a nutshell, was that many (not all) of them were not ready for college. At some point in the enrollment process, each student took tests in basic math and literacy. If they fell below a certain point, they were supposed to get assistance in order to bring up there skills. That didn't happen. Instructors were willing to do it, but the school would/could not pay them to do it, because it was not part of any curriculum.

As a result, I had one student who I am sure was dyslexic. His answer to a question about the 'home directory' in Linux devolved into a blurb about home construction. He was the classic 'deer in the headlights' when another professor was drilling him about a network design. He came to me afterwords, almost in tears because he locked up and couldn't answer any of the questions posed. I got some books and tried working with him, but I don't think I was able to accomplish anything with him, except perhaps to know that someone cared. (He gave me a rose at his graduation ceremony. I still shake my head about the whole thing.)

So, here's the catch in all of this. Instructors were measured on "retention" and "student success". Which, in a sane corporation, are good standards. If an instructor is losing students, and the ones remaining are not passing classes, and/or not  graduating, then that instructor is not doing his or her job. But, given the student's lack of preparation for college, and school's lack of support in helping the be ready once they got there, meeting the success and retention standard was almost impossible.

As a rough rule of thumb, if a student missed three classes in a row, they were automatically dropped from the class. After each class, instructors were required to phone each absent student, if they had not previously told the instructor they would be absent that day. Were required to put a note into the students electronic file about the attempt to contact them. Phoning didn't work, but we discovered that texting did.

Some students played the PAAPAA... game - present, then two absences, then present so they wouldn't be dropped, lather, rinse, repeat. Needless to say, their academic performance suffered as a result.

Student success was measured on a rolling percentage of students who passed the classes we taught. Given the circumstance I described above, that was difficult at best. That is, if one was to to it honestly. I can honestly say that I never gave a grade that I was not able to support had I been questioned about it. But, my words and phrasing would probably been chosen carefully in some instances. For me, it was a matter of scrutinizing the grey areas of a student's work, to see if I could honestly up the grade enough so he would pass.

I gather others did some things that were outside of what I would call honest, like throwing out quiz and test questions that everyone missed, and calculating the grade on the net number of questions, instead of the actual number.

My numbers were never stellar, and I was called into Dean Fixer's office and warned that I Needed To Improve Or Else. I handed them the excuse to fire me instead.

We were on a field trip to a vendor conference in D.C. Late in the afternoon, I got bored, went outside, and went into a garden bar and grill next door. And had a beer. As you do at vendor shows.

A couple of weeks later, I was called in to Dean Fixer's office again, and let go because I had been Drinking at a School Function, which was considered a 'No Tolerance' offense.

And here I am.

The problem with ITT Owings Mills, as I see it, was this. They were bringing in students, many of whom were not ready for or capable of college work. This automatically put the instructors in a difficult spot in terms of their performance metrics, if they wanted to teach and grade honestly. (By the way, I hate the word 'ethical'. It's a poor substitute for 'honest'.) If a student was ready, and willing to do the work, they could get a good, solid education in their chosen field.

We had good teachers, and good materials. For the most part, we lacked students who were ready for college. And that is where ITT as a company failed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Happy Birthday, Martha!


From somewhen early in the last century:

Absent Martha, I'm taking a swag at the others in the picture. Martha is the young lady on the right. On her right, the little one is Margaret, next to her is Clarence ('Tuffy').

The two boys in the back are Hans and Ralph ('Doc'). I'm not really sure which is which, but I suspect that Hans is the  rightmost most of the two. He always appeared to be the most 'sober' of the two, but the was the top joker amongst the boys.

My best guess for the young woman behind Martha is Grandma Evah, and that she would have been in her early 30s.

So, Martha, 104, Gladys 105, and Dad 98. Happy Birthday, Mom!!


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Pass It On

WARNING: *Very Graphic*



"Want to help the Western world and help prevent attacks like this in the future?
Then spread this video and all like it. It is time that the anger and awareness of Western peoples reached fever pitch. There is no point being constantly insulated from the violent truth, especially when tens of millions of people indulge in Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, watch horror films, and play video games where players maim and kill others.
"Whether they realized it or not, every person who voted for leftwing parties in recent French elections, and even the "center-right" UMP, voted for the continuation of terror attacks. Every other competitive party but the National French have shown no interest in tackling the immigration disaster that is fueling terrorist attacks, ethnic minority crime and overall cultural capitulation from Paris to Nice. The Socialists and UMP were so scared of the National Front that they even banded together to make sure it did not succeed. That said, the main blame can be attributed to French voters themselves, who were too interested in idealized and fake happy narratives than preventing more of the attacks and social disunity that otherwise make them weep and complain."
Lifted bodily from Gerard. Because he said to.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Random Brain Droppings, July 4th Version

In no particular order.

From Gerard, the Short List:
A short list. In no particular order.

We told our children that any child could grow up to be President. And then we made it come true.

We had car shows, boat shows, beauty shows and dog shows.

We ran robots on the surface of Mars by remote control.

Our women came from all over the world in all shapes and sizes and hues and scents.

We actually believed that all men are created equal and tried to make it come true.

Everybody liked our movies and loved our television shows.

We tried to educate everybody, whether they wanted it or not. Sometimes we succeeded.

We did Levis.

We held the torch high and hundreds of millions came. No matter what the cost.

We saved Europe twice and liberated it once.

We believed so deeply and so abidingly in free speech that we protected and honored and, in some cases, even elected traitors.

We let you be as freaky as you wanted to be.

We paid you not to plant crops and not to work.

We died in the hundreds of thousands to end slavery here. And when that was done continued for a century and a half around the world.

We invented Jazz.

We wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysberg address.

We went to the moon to see how far we could hit a golf ball.

We lifted a telescope into orbit that could see to the edge of the universe.

When people snuck into the country against our laws, we made parking lots and food stands off to the side of the road so they wouldn't get hurt, and we let them use our hospitals for free, and we made their children citizens.

We didn't care what God you worshipped as long as we could worship ours.

We let the People arm themselves at will. Just to make sure.

We gave everybody the vote.

We built Disneyworld. Just for fun.

We had a revolution so successful it was still going strong two and a quarter centuries later.

We had so many heroes, even at the end, that we felt free to hate them and burn them in effigy.

We electrified the guitar.

We invented a music so compelling that it rocked the world.

We had some middling novelists.

We had some interesting painters.

We had some pretty good poets.

We had better songwriters.

We ran our farms so well we fed the globe.

We made the automobile and the airplane.

We let you get rich. Really, really rich.

We didn't care who you were or what you were or where you came from or who your parents were. We just cared about what you made or what you did.

We had poor people who, even at their most wretched, were richer than any other poor people on the face of the planet.

We were the most noble nation the world had ever known.

We had so much freedom that many of us voted to just throw it all away.

Even towards the end, as we dissolved into the petty bickering and idle entertainments that come with having far too much leisure and money, many among us were still striving to make it higher, finer, brighter, better and more beautiful.

Even towards the end, the best of us declined to give up and pressed on. "Where to? What next?"
Frazz:


(Dedicated to @PeeteySDee. He knows why.)

And finally, from Brooke:


Be careful out there!!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Random Brain Droppings...

...on millennials, and the law.

First, the millennials:

Airlines should offer millennial flights (or, someone should start 'Millennial Air'.)

Features:
  • All first-class seating
  • Free food - locally sourced, organic, all vegan
  • Free drinks - Pabst Blue Ribbon, and a wide selection of craft IPAs
  • Free wi-fi, with no connection to any triggers or micro-aggressions
  • Guaranteed safe space once on board and for the duration of the flight.
  • And, free airfare - all costs paid by the air crew, who are, of course, the 1%
  • All non, non-white passengers required to sit in the back of the plane
  • In coach seats
  • All non, non-white passengers required to shut the f*** up.
I know it makes  no sense. but then, look at the market.

On the law...

...started with this throw-away response:



Found this from @BobbiJoR to go with my morning coffee:


...and we're off:*







And it was about here that I got frustrated with trying to get her to clarify what she was after, which isn't germaine to this post. What it seemed to boil down to is this:
"I'm worried about lack of due process and too may laws."
 * I've reconstructed this as best I can, getting what I think is the gist of the conversation. Any errors are mine.

I'm poking about in her timeline, and it interesting stuff, but it seems incomplete:


Who are the other 8%? I'm thinking the "power players". My guess is 8% would be about right, since it seems most drug convictions wold be for possession/use.

My other guess is, most federal convictions are for white collar crime. Aaaand, the guess would be wrong, according to The Overview of Federal Cases, Fiscal Year 2012, Schmitt and Dukes, Office of Research and Data.  Interesting reading. I skimmed it, and I'm not sure if it refutes or supports @JessSmith_TPC or not.

Definitions are certainly in order, which is what irritated my in my exchange with @BibbiJoR. Here, I want to know the definition of "violent offense", and how many of those offenses were part of, oh, say, a drug offense. Thre is no category for 'violent crimes' in the Overview, so I'd like to know where @JessSmoth_TPC got that number. It does appear that the feds slice and dice their data in a myriad of ways, so she quite possibly has a report that I haven't found.

More importantly, I'd really like to know what #JusticeForAll is about. Time to poke around some more, after some needed work gets done.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bretagne (Bumped and Updated) Bretagne Was Honored Before Her Passing

Bretagne has passed on.
https://amp.twimg.com/amplify-web-player/prod/source.html?vmap_url=https%3A%2F%2Famp.twimg.com%2Fprod%2Fmultibr_v_1%2Fvmap%2F2016%2F06%2F07%2F17%2F740232907449630720%2Fbb1a3963-9608-4aa6-af0d-2dfab50e2b19.vmap&duration=64.042&image_src=https%3A%2F%2Fpbs.twimg.com%2Famplify_img%2F740235320420098048%2FORwBH44U%3Fformat%3Djpg%26name%3D640x360&content_id=740232907449630720&page=amplify_card
Click the picture for the CBS video
More at the Houston Chronicle  Via @JusticeWillett

* * *
I just didn't feel like trying to post anything for Patriots' Day (9/11) this year. I'm rather news-averse these days, what with all of the seriously bad insanity going on all over the world.  But today, I found this and needed to share:

You can see the rest here! 


Thanks to  weaselzippers and KLFY!!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

BFTP*

*Blast From The Past!!

Got this from one of my Boeing co-workers:


From left to right, Rob, moi, and Chuck. This was taken no earlier than 2002. I know this because I bought that shirt for my 2002 trip to Costa Rica. It was taken at the BBC, which is local speak for the Belmont Brewing Company. We were on the back patio which overlooks the beach. 

Both Rob and I have lost weight since then. I haven't been in touch w/ Chuck for years, which is something I missed, but apparently not enough to do anything about until now. 

We spent more than one 'last day before Christmas break lunch' there,  watching the waves and the cute, bikini'd roller skaters on the bike path.

The BBC was the first brew pub I ever frequented, and is still my favorite!  It, and my friends, are some of the few things I miss about SoCal.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

We're screwed?

Scientists Admit Everything They Know About Physics Is Likely Wrong

 

Scientists at CERN have announced that everything scientists thought they knew about physics may be entirely false, following the discovery of two new baryon subatomic particles. 

 

The next few years may tell us whether we’ll be able to continue to increase our understanding of nature or whether maybe, for the first time in the history of science, we could be facing questions that we cannot answer,” Harry Cliff, a particle physicist at CERN said in a recent TED talk.

The_2_most_dangerous_numbers-ca33b76e7b1b3d9676ca06954f28e343

 Article here.

Reminds me of the state of physics at the close of the 19th century. Everything was nice and tidy, except for the 'black body radiation' problem, which would be solved easily and real soon.

The solution was relativity and quantum mechanics.

Here we go again. The problem is, of course not in the universe, but in our theories and hypotheses.

Heh.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

#CapitalismWorks!! (Updated)

 Update: I complemented Michelle on winning the internet today, and she responded:

Yes I think it (went) viral pretty quick but the legal department at KW made me delete the post bc it was getting too much attention! Thank you
 Another humorless corporation.


Via American Digest

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mothers' Day, Part Deux

Two older posts about my deburrings (skin cancer excisions), and my Grandma G. The grandma stuff is the important part.  (Spoiler: I survived the surgeries.)

Grandma and Grandpa G, ca. 1954.

The Deburring...

posted 07/11/08
Tough day, and it's barely 1:30 PM. I spent three hours this morning "under the knife" at the nearby medical center, getting some of the results of my youthful, tanned beach-god days removed. Whilst awake. But under appropriate locals.

As usual in these things, I had plenty of time to sit around waiting, and thus plenty of time to contemplate my navel. Intellectually, I wasn't worried. I told a co-worker the other day that I thought this would be much less unpleasant that a root canal. And I was right. But emotionally, I knew I was scared. And that somehow brought me to what must be my definitive "happy place", one that I hadn't remembered or connected with emotionally in a long, long time.

After the accident, mom took me with her to Illinois so she could heal up at her mom and dad's place. I don't know the exact events that took place after that, but my earliest memories are of grandpa and grandma G. living with us in L.A. They apparently moved to California to stay with us and help care for me. I don't know if grandma G's breast cancer was a factor in that move, but I do remember knowing that she had it. And I remember the huge machine that was used for her radiation therapy, and visiting her in the hospital.

What I remembered today was what I did and how I felt when I was little-little. Grandma G spent most of her time in bed, and I would crawl in with her and we would talk. Looking back, that was the happiest, safest place I've ever been in my entire life. It puts the the crazy babysitter and the psychotic nuns into a sharp relief, which I'm willing to bet put the cap on my preference for going it alone.

I guess that warmth and safety is the experience I've been looking to re-create all these years.

Interesting.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Back Under the Knife

I spent about an hour or so under the knife, again. New surgeon, new hospital (more, later).

Once again, in pre-op, I found myself thinking of my time with Gramma G. I think what makes that time so special to me is that it was unconditional. I suppose she knew, or at least suspected, that she was dying during my time with her. If so, she never seemed to show me that she was afraid. It seemed to me that she had nothing else to do when she shared her time with me. I'm sure that her dying was a great strain to my mom and Grampa G, so they were, of course, distracted.

After she passed on, my life changed. Grampa G would take off for a few months to spend time with his other children in Arizona and Illinois. When he was gone, I would stay overnight at my best friend's house, and during the summers,stay during the day as well. This was because my mom worked the night shift at the hospital.

Anyway, I know where my "happy place" is. Thanks, Gramma.

Happy Mothers' Day!!


With nothing but respect to women raising children with dedication and love everywhere!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Suzu



As I wrote to friends and family:
Took her in for a 'consult' this afternoon. Long and short, it seemed the best to let her go. She went very peacefully. 

 Thanks for your thoughts, prayers and support.