Sunday, October 24, 2004

46,466,465 and Counting

I’m appalled at the beheadings occurring in Iraq but I have to wonder; are we as a society really any better than the terrorists who would do such a barbaric thing to another person? Is a partial-birth abortion any less gruesome than you average everyday run of the mill beheading? It’s not. But hey, we need to get Bush out of office because he wants to make it illegal to do such a thing and for those who lean left I suppose that’s a bad thing. I hope I’m able to one day enter the Left’s stream of consciousness so I too can be enlightened and join in the fun and be able to say that I’m helping make the world a better place. Maybe in another life.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

What Do You Do?

Here’s a hypothetical I wrote as I ponder the situation America finds itself in today. Feedback is welcome.

You’ve been elevated to the highest office in the world and for whatever crazy reason it dawns on you that the world is sort of dependent upon oil for its very survival. You’ve seen the bumper stickers, ‘no blood for oil’ but you never really gave it much thought—I mean, it sounds good, doesn’t it? So you start to wonder—okay, let’s say that all the oil-producing countries are overthrown by some radical Islamic sects and they collectively decide they don’t need our money any longer and they turn off the spigot. What do you do? It’s not our oil after all and we really have no right to take it from them. You try to imagine an America without oil to fuel the cars which take people to their jobs. For a moment you imagine an America without jobs. You picture deserted highways void of the never-ending whine of 18-wheelers as they transport goods from manufacturers to consumers. Wow, the ramifications on our economy and the world as we know it are frightening. And you thought the lack of a flu vaccine was an outrage. It occurs to you that this is maybe just a tad bit more pressing.

As the president you have a choice: you can go about your busy schedule and pretend all is well while schmoozing your way toward a second term or you can exercise your vision and see the situation for what it is. Doing this, though, will no doubt cost you serious political capital and will most likely weaken you in the short term as there is no sanitary way to do what needs to be done. The other option is to accept the tough choices which go with the job and do what will be in everyone’s best interest years from now no matter how distasteful it may seem at the moment. Your opponent knows that you’re an easy mark in the upcoming election because there is no way that the fruits of your labor are anywhere near ready for market. All the public sees is the turmoil fed to them daily by a giant media only concerned with bringing the public sensational headlines every day to sell more papers all at your expense. Tragedy sells and there’s certainly no lack of it. There’s no lack of war-ravaged Iraqi families to turn to when they want to make their point. It’s sad that the people who are experiencing freedom for the first time aren’t being paraded out in front of the camera to show us their brilliant smiles so we can also understand that we’re doing so much good for these ever oppressed people.

But that’s just part of the story. Did I tell you that I do think that a good part of the reason we’re over there is because of the oil? I’m very upfront about that because I think it’s an acceptable reason especially given all the other humanitarian causes we can list for being there. The problem with that thinking though is that the American left in all their glorious ignorance would scream bloody murder if we actually came out and said that.

So what do you do? You’ve got your UN resolutions in hand and you’ve supposedly got the support of the entire coalition—that is until you actually say you’re going to follow through with what the resolutions have given you the authority to do. You can continue down the road of inspections all the while knowing that those have been a farce and will never amount to anything. You also have to remember that Saddam did possess the WMD at one time and never accounted for their destruction so given that little bit of information, common sense tells you that he still has them. Your intelligence also tells you that the Oil for Food program is certainly enriching Saddam and quite possibly the UN leader’s son. You remind yourself that the only people hurt by sanctions in a dictatorship are the bottom feeders. What other leverage to you apply?

Have you seen enough yet or do you need more? What do you do with the position you've been given to see to it that a small number of evil-minded people aren't allowed to wreak havoc upon the rest of us?

Extreme Basement Makeover

We're finally doing it...we're finishing our basement. We'll take this baron, cinder block lined enclave and turn it into a warm and cozy family place. I say warm because part of the plan is to build a sauna where we can melt away the cares of the world. I'd love to be able to do the work ourselves but I'm no pretender when it comes to matters such as this and I think it's best left to the pros. Keith will be doing the cabinets and bar for us while his friends, Dan and John, will do the rest of the work.

Dan is a former Northwest Airlines mechanic who began his remodeling business after being laid off several years ago. John is also a laid off airplane mechanic and together they come highly recommended from Keith.

We had a garage sale a few weeks ago and were able to part with all sorts of stuff we'd been storing in the basement. It actually looks pretty nice down there now without any clutter.

Today was day one of the project. They mapped out some room dimensions on the floor then left to go shop for supplies. I think one of the first things they plan to do is to punch another sump drain in the concrete on the opposite end of the basement from the existing sump basket. That was my idea in an effort to help prevent any water damage from future heavy rains. It also affords us the protection of having an extra sump pump online should either one fail. I'll need to get a battery backup for at least one of them though for those times when you lose power during a storm. It's the nature of the beast I suppose when you finish a room below ground and the potential for water damage is there. We're investing too much to not try and do all we can to protect it.

Another big obstacle they'll tackle early is to remove the support post which is in the way but does serve a vital function. You can see it in the photo above. The post is positioned on a seam in a 26-foot beam which supports the main level. The plan is to jack up the main level and remove both the post and beam while replacing them both with one continuous 26-foot laminated beam. It will be nice to not have the post in the way.

There is so much to do to pull this whole project together. Tammy and I will be doing some stained glass for the cabinets Keith is making. We still don't have a design figured out, much less an idea of what we'd like. I began work on a stained glass lamp to hang above the bumper-pool table. We're making the same 18" Tiffany reproduction Tulip lamp we made for Don and Dorothy. Yea, I's not your typical pool table lamp but I think it'll look nice.

I spent last week trying to figure out what to buy for a TV. We initially bought a 50" Sony but then Tammy got to thinking that a little bigger might be better. Keith agreed and so I canceled the order and continued shopping. I stumbled upon an online Sony forum and found that they'd organized a buying group. I was able to buy a 60" set though the group for $900 less than I would've paid at BestBuy. It was delivered today and it's a monster! I came home from work to find it sitting in some free space in our family room. I couldn't get over how big it is. For all its size though it weighs just a little over 100 lbs.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

John Kerry

I worked the all-night shift last night. I took over the sector at 3:20am just in time to vector John Kerry's Lear jet (N93LE) into Sioux City, IA. He was coming in from Glendale, AZ, having just finished the last debate with President Bush. I didn't get to see the whole debate but what I did see seemed to be a repeat of the first 2 debates.

It's anybody's guess as to who will win the election. I'm tired of the divisiveness but I don't blame the president for that. I think the left has been relentless in their attacks and have done nothing to further unity. I could go into a long list of what I'm bothered by but I don't have the stamina for that tonight.

Tammy bought the DVD, Fahrenhype 9/11 at BestBuy a couple nights ago. It debunks Michael Moore's claims against the Bush administration. Check it out if you're at all interested in hearing the other side.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Goodbye Summer

We've had a string of nice warm days but it appears they're coming to an end. I got out on my bike today and had a very good ride. There was little to no wind and I made tracks to Northfield getting down there with an average speed of just over 20mph. I headed for home and found a good rhythm until I flatted with 10 miles to go. Just as I pulled over, Keith came up behind me in his truck and stopped to see if I needed any help. We chatted while I got my tire fixed. I found my rhythm once again and pressed for homecoming in at 20.24mph over 50 miles.

I spent a good part of yesterday trying to decide if I'd made the right decision in buying a TV from BestBuy. I had a coupon which saved me 12% off the price of a 50" Sony but then a couple days later I began thinking that maybe we'd be better off with a 55 or 60" set. I went back to BestBuy on Monday night and changed our order from a Sony to a 60" Panasonic. Then yesterday I searched the net and found a buying group from a Sony online forum which had secured some very good prices on all sorts of Sony sets. I ordered one from the group and it will be shipped out on Friday. It was all a bit of a hassle and I can only hope I made the right decision.

We're still waiting to begin work on our basement. We've got it all cleared out and ready for the workers. We're supposed to meet with Dan next week to get his bid. I'm thinking he's going to be up over 50K and that doesn't include Keith's work. If we can get it done for 60K I think I'll be surprised.

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

My Last Long Ride of the Season

I took today off work to go out for what may be my last long ride of the season. The temp got into the upper 70s today and for this late in October that's pretty nice. Actually, the next few days are supposed to be well above normal.

I got up early and couldn't go back to sleep I decided to get a jump on my ride and made it out the door by 8:00. It was a bit cool at 52 but I rode hard for the first 30 minutes and I was comfortable. I headed out County rd 46 and rode that west then took Hwy 5 north to Hwy 13. The traffic was pretty busy along 13 but I always get a rush from it. It also helps to have some good tunes to motivate you. I remember having the New Radicals pushing me along as I caught drafts from the passing traffic. Cruising past Valley Fair now and thinking about all the fun times we had there this summer. I remember a few years ago when I couldn't pay Rachel to ride the Corkscrew. She was maybe 10 at the time and still a bit afraid of most of the larger rides. Within a month of that visit, she went back with her friend, Camille and came home to tell me that she did all the rides...even the Power Tower! I guess she didn't want to disappoint Camille and found out they weren't so bad after all.

By the time I rolled into Shakopee the temp was in the upper 50s but the wind was pretty stiff out of the southwest. Once I left Shakopee it would become a headwind. Just outside the city, I saw the sign for Mankato—56 miles. Did I have it in me today? I briefly thought about doing that trip but in the back of my mind, I didn't think I would because of the wind. Anyway, I hadn't totally discounted the idea.

Riding the shoulder of Hwy 169 I recalled the time a few years ago I recalled the time when a dump truck pulled out slowly well ahead of me. After a short time, I was able to catch up to it as the driver cycled through the gears. I tucked in within a few feet of his rear wheels and stayed with him for a couple miles as I reached over 50 mph. It's probably not one of the smarter things I've done on my bike but definitely one of the more exhilarating. I remember thinking that if there was some roadkill to avoid, I'd never see it in time and I'd likely crash. I decided on self-preservation and backed off.

Once I saw this sign (to the left) I started doing some figuring trying to calculate what time I'd get back home if I decided to press on to Mankato. I'd pretty much decided I'd go to St. Peter and make a decision then based on how I felt.

My cellphone rang around 10:30 and it was my doctor. I decided a month ago that I wanted to be upfront with my employer about my headaches so that when they return again I can pull myself from controlling until they're gone after a month or so. It's not so easy to just come forward and admit that you have a disqualifying condition. My fear being that they may say my controlling days are over and put me behind a desk pushing papers or worse yet, they may terminate me for not divulging the condition sooner. The doctor I'm working with presents my case to the Flight Surgeon of the region I work in with hopes that I'll be granted a waiver to continue as a Controller and immunity from punitive measures for hiding my condition. The news he had for me was that my case has been sent out of the region and elevated to a higher level where it's anyone's guess what they'll decide. The higher it goes I think the less likely I am to receive a favorable decision, not to mention, it'll probably take them much longer to decide what to do. In the meantime, I have to hope my headaches don't come back and if they do I'll have to come forward then as I'm not putting myself in the position of controlling with these again. I spent about 20 minutes off my bike as we talked. I also gave Tammy a call to explain it all to her.

A few miles up the road I pulled over again and ran inside the DQ for what I was hoping would be some fast food but it was anything but that. The service was quick as they took my order right away but I had to wait over 10 minutes for my food. I just wanted to get back on my bike as quickly as I could. Another 20 minutes delayed and now I'm 40 minutes down from where I'd hoped to be. Hey, it's really hard to complain when it's such a beautiful day out. I convinced myself that I was on my bike and it was really warm and so what if I was running behind.

I pressed on past the Le Seuer exit with St. Peter about 40 minutes up the road. Hwy 169 south of Le Seuer is a very pretty ride. The wind was keeping me from fully enjoying the ride but hey, I wasn't at work. I rolled into St. Peter and decided I'd keep heading toward Mankato.

South of St. Peter the leaves are beginning to turn. Tammy was mentioning the other day that she'd like to take a drive and see some Fall colors. I think another couple weeks and they'll be peaking. So many of the leaves along the way were still green with the occasional stand of trees which were tuning sooner than the others.

Finally, 75 miles into the trip I rolled into Mankato and got off on Riverfront Dr. I got back on the other side of the road and dialed the speed up the 25-35 as I had a nice tail wind which I was very happy to have. My legs were a bit tired though so I couldn't push as hard for as long as I'd like to have.

As I passed through Belle Plaine on the way home I caught my odometer as it turned 7000 miles. That was nice to see and it got me wondering if I can make 8000 before the snow flies? I think it's a bit of a long shot but I'll see what I can do.

The rest of the trip was good and I was focusing hard to keep the negative thoughts at bay and keep my speed up. I couldn't believe the traffic jam in Shakopee and wondered if it was this way every evening during rush hour. The cars were backed up for over a half-mile standing still. I'm so glad my commute to work has none of that.

I got home around 5:30 and 151 miles later. It was a good ride. I tried to lay down and catch a couple hours sleep before tonight's all-night shift but I just laid there. I gave up after 30 minutes and came down when Tammy came home. We chatted for a bit then I headed to work. I'm so tired as I write this and can't wait to get some sleep when I get home. We've got a big day planned tomorrow.