Cogito Patris

Random Thoughts for Random People

A Day for Rememberance…Anyday

Today is Sunday, October 10, 2010.  Today is not Memorial Day; today is not Veteran’s day; Armed Forces day; labor day or even Thanksgiving.  In fact, the only holiday I could find for today on a quick internet search was ‘National Cake Decorating Day’.

But for some reason, today I am remembering those people who have sacrificed for the society I take for granted.  A big part of my thoughts naturally fall on our fighting men and women in the military who risk life and limb for our safety and protection.  I will not expound on my won feelings on the wars our military is asked to fight on behalf of politicians which may or may not have our country’s (or the world’s) best interests at heart.  But I am proud of how our military responds whenever and wherever they are needed.  They do things that I simply could not do on behalf of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and  global freedom.

More than the military, I would like to thank our civil servants.  Police Officers, Agents for the DEA, FDA (yes, I meant to include them), CIA, FBI (etc ad nauseum), Fire Fighters, Volunteers, some Spiritual Leaders, Teachers and those folks who run our snow plows, mow public roadways, maintain and build our roads.  These people contribute to the improvement and maintenance of our society.  Often times these people are woefully underpaid and asked to risk their lives or health for us.

I want to take a moment to single out Teachers.  Remember your favorite teacher.  I’ll wait.  Remember him or her?  OK, I will assume that the person in question is not a college professor (most aren’t).  Now remember all the crap they had to deal with from the other kids.  Now remember that they made a pittance compared to most other professions that require a degree.  In my opinion the highest paying jobs in our society should be Teachers (by a large margin).  I would love to hear a conversation like ‘Graduate 1: “Did you get that job a Podunk Middle School?” Graduate 2: “Nah, I had to settle for a computer programming position at Microsoft.”‘ Presently, that isn’t the case (obviously).  Today our teachers fall in to two categories. 1) Incredibly dedicated, intelligent and competent people who genuinely want to help mold the future. 2) Incompetent people who couldn’t get a better job and use teaching as their fall-back.  The second group could be eliminated if the pay was higher so there was genuine competition for the positions by the best and the brightest in every field.  We may lose some of the first group (a real shame*), but I would still consider it a large improvement.  But I digress. Every teacher, no matter which group they fall in to, deserves our thanks.  They not only care for our children, but they also produce our future.  I am proud of my Mother for teaching for 39 years.  Now that she is retired, she continues to substitute.  You rock mom.

The final group in my cascade of thanks are the people who make a decent wage, but still help to improve our society.  Doctors, some lawyers (too few in my opinion), some Politicians (stop laughing), Nurses and even those professionals that produce our medical equipment.  Researchers, programmers, engineers and even the people working on the manufacturing line (not well paid, but they help our society).  They all contribute to our medicine and the greater good not only of our society, but of our global neighborhood as well.

One last note.  In the past I could have included myself in this final group.  I worked at the American Red Cross as a software tester.  I miss that feeling of ‘helping my fellow man’, no matter how minimal my contribution.  Now, I work for a financial institution.  It just isn’t the same.

* That isn’t sarcasm

October 10, 2010 Posted by | Random Thoughts, Wild Theory | Leave a comment

942 Days, 17 Hours, 30 Minutes

You may have noticed that I have not been posting very often. The reason is simple. You see, tomorrow at 8:30 I will be doing something I have not done in almost exactly 19 months. I will go to work. This concludes what has been among the darkest days of my life (which kinda explains the lack of postings). The financial problems associated with unemployment are one thing. They were exacerbated by the fact that we found a treatment for Dante’s autism based on stroke treatments that have been really effective. Unfortunately they are only done by one doctor in the U.S. and not only is he out of network, but he was in New York (Long Island to be precise). Between hotel costs and the treatment costs themselves we have run up quite a bill. Now we have a plan. We should be able to recoup our debt in a couple of years. That means, among other things, our cars will have to last.
But I digress. Every cloud has a silver lining (unless the CFO sold it for a profit). In this case, I got to know my kids better (the dark cloud in this silver lining is that before Dante’s treatments started I realized how severe his autism is which is depressing). My wife and I were actually able to reconnect. I was diagnosed with a hormone deficiency and I am now getting treatment that should help a whole lot of my medical issues. Hopefully now that I have a sunnier disposition, I will be posting more frequently. But for now, I will simply accept that I get to positively contribute to my family and to society generally.

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment

I contacted my Congressman and Senator today…I feel so civic minded.

I do not feel that Energy is receiving enough attention. I would like to make a recommendation for a strategy I would like to see pursued. All energy on earth originally came from the sun. I think that solar technology has the highest potential for a semi-permanent energy strategy. The technology is not mature, though I think we can make a good start.

This is what I would like to suggest: The Government will purchase and install all solar panels produced with a minimum efficiency rating paying a premium for higher efficiencies. That efficiency rating can be changed from year to year (announced ahead of time).

If we can reduce the costs and pollution indicative of electricity production via fossil fuels we may also be able to encourage electric vehicles.

By paying a premium for higher efficiencies and upping the minimums the industry will be forced to innovate. By having a guaranteed buyer the industry could move to more efficient, higher throughput manufacturing techniques.

I know it would be expensive. Also finding a place to put all of those panels may be difficult (putting them on residential house roofs would allow for distribution, but not all houses would be able to handle the additional weight).

My undergraduate degree is in Integrated Science and Technology with a concentration in Energy Systems. I don’t work in the industry, so please take this as the advice of a knowledgeable citizen. Not a lobbyist who is trying to turn a profit.

February 17, 2010 Posted by | Random Thoughts, Thoughts on Politics, Wild Theory | Leave a comment

Darrell

When Michael Jackson died last year I was confused. Apparently everyone around me and everyone in the media mourned his passing as if their brother had passed. I know that he was a flawed human being. I think the vehemence that others showed at his passing was an indication of the hurt that would also have been indicative of the disappointment one would feel if a close relative had proven to be equally flawed.

I was confused because I enjoyed his music, but he wasn’t really a productive member of society at the time (although he was supposed to be coming out with something new) and I didn’t know him personally. Why were all of these people so interested? Was his fame equal to being a member of the family? Anthropomorphically, apparently, it is. We come to identify with the famous because it is an extension of our cultural “survival of the fittest” (though I am not an expert, I am repeating what I heard on the Discovery Channel).

So far I have not been susceptible to this phenomenon. That may be because no famous person with whom I identify have passed away. So I was thinking about who I idealize enough to encounter this issue.  So I started to think about famous people that I really admire.  The first to come up…Billy Joel.  I really love his music and I identify with many of his songs.

I tried to think of anyone else and there was only one I could think of. Darrell Green. Not only was he a professional football player for the Washington Redskins. He was a consummate professional. Not only could he cover any player…even at the age of 40. He accepted demotion to the nickle back position without public complaint. He taught younger players better than any coach.  But even off the field he showed that he could be a professional athlete AND a good person.  His interviews showed intelligence and the ability to properly utilize the English language.  He started a non-profit organization to help less fortunate people in the Washington DC area; thereby giving back to the community that had made him a star.  So, when I cam across this article I had to share.  The man is no 50 years old and faster than many NFL “skill” players who will be at the scouting combine…they will be from 20 to 23 years old.

February 17, 2010 Posted by | Football, Random Thoughts, Redskins, Sports | Leave a comment

Coinsidence

I like random coincidences. My family lore includes a random story going back to World War II. My maternal grandfather was serving in the Navy attached to an Admiral’s staff serving on an aircraft carrier in the pacific (I don’t know the name). At the same time my father’s father’s brother was serving on the same carrier. The ship was attacked and sunk. My maternal grandfather was evacuated with the Admiral. My grand uncle went down with the ship. After the war, my Mother and Father were conceived within two months of each other.

I was reminded of this story when remembering something else. You see, on August 25th, 2006 I came down with a stomach flu. I remember that because my daughter (my second born) was born on that particular day. On September 24th, 1976, my mother went home from work with a stomach flu. She was very pregnant with me (her second born) so she went to the doctor. Turns out, it wasn’t the flu, it was labor. I was born at 7:53 that evening.

February 16, 2010 Posted by | Random Thoughts | , | Leave a comment

People are bad…probably

Recently I have been trying to figure out of people are generally good, generally bad or downright evil.  My original thesis was this:

First, “Good” can be defined as what everybody thinks is acceptable.

Second, Most people define “Good” in a way that fits their own activities.

Therefore, most people are good.

This may be a logical answer, but the argument falls short as an actual argument.  So I am going to try to have a better answer.  I would like to apologise if I seem to be arguing with myself during this post as that is exactly what I am doing.

Why are people good (as they define it)?  Is it because they fear retribution?  Is it a moral imperative?  If the former, then I would say that is an indication that, given the chance, most people would be bad (if not evil).  If the latter, then there may be hope for the human race after all.

How can we determine a single person’s internal reasons for taking actions, much less everyone’s?  The best way is to evaluate those people who think they are above retribution by means of personal wealth or because they think they are too stupid or crazy to know better.  Now in the second case, I am not talking about the people who steal to feed their family (they are being pushed in to violating societal mores).  I am talking about true lunatics here.

The evidence here gets hard to gather.  Many people are financially well-to-do and stick to their morality.  These people never make the news.  Then there are cases such as Bernie Madoff.  So, Are there more “good” guys than “Bernie” guys that fit this “above the law” criteria?  Probably.  Does that prove that most people are good?  Probably not.  I would rather use the term “adequate” for people that only do no harm.  What about actually doing good?  Again, the people who do good rarely make the news.  It can also be argued that the harm that one Bernie can do is not mitigated by the good that a single goodie-two-shoes does.  And what about the good guy?  If he has $20M in money that can be spent on anything, and buys himself a $19.9M car and give $100k to charity…is that good?  The car was built by someone and therefore he is helping the economy.  But that is not a selfless act…and therefore not really good.

Then there are other cases that do not conform to the case study from above.  I was renting a house until I got a job.  My landlord knew that we were strapped for cash.  He and his wife were both employed.  He chose to sell the house we were living in rather than take a financial stalemate (which was the situation with my lease).  This put a lot of pressure on me and my family.  He was a decent guy otherwise, but did something uncomfortable to me so that he and his family could be more comfortable.  Is that a good act?  I will leave it up to the reader to decide since I am too close to this example.

This is a small sample size.  But can we make a tentative conclusion?  I am going to say that people are not good.  People who consistently do good deeds are far outnumbered by the truly evil and just plain unconscientious.  Are people evil?  There is evil in the world, but the mere presence of the Mother Theresas in the world would seem to disapprove the “people are evil” hypothesis.

I think, by and large, people are inconsiderate.  Not really evil, but definitely not good.  So, if I have to put people in to one of the categories I outlined at the beginning, then I am forced to put the human race in the “bad” range.

October 2, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts on Politics, Thoughts on Religion, Wild Theory | Leave a comment

“Gark?”

My best friend from college and high school came for a visit last week.  My daughter was enjoying his company.  They had a lot of fun.  In fact, Cory had his brain melted by her cuteness.  She sand “twinkle Twinkle Little Star” which comes out as “ginke ginke itl are.”  She also called out “Touchdown” when we played football on PlayStation. 

After he left, my daughter goes walking around the house saying “Gark?”.  My brother’s name is Mark and they do resemble each other. Sow e said “first of all, his name is Cory.”  To which she responded “oree”.  When we told her he went home, she put her hands up and said “Home?” as if to say “we are home”.  We then had to tell her that he went to his home.

Beware, she is so cute she will MELT YOUR BRAIN.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment

All I ever needed to know about life I learned from watching Stargate.

There are entire books with this theme.  I myself own both the Star Trek and Star Trek the Next Generation. 

This will likely become a recurring theme.  It will include “lessons” from any of the Stargate series and movie including but not limited to SG-1 and Atlantis.

Now without further ado:

A little Jello goes a long way:  Whether it is just to help someone feel better or because you are infected with an alien probe, sometimes Jello is the best remedy.

“I want to live, I want to experience the universe, and I want to eat pie.”: Who doesn’t?  Experiencing life is almost as important as merely living.  And you doesn’t want pie?

An original greeting can help you stand out from the rest:“Hello” is too commonplace.  Try “Greetings” or better yet “Kumtria”.

Sometimes not understanding a thing can bring great pleasure: “If you immediately know the candlelight is fire, the meal was cooked a long time ago.”  For many years SG-1 fans have contemplated the meaning of these words.  They inspire creative thinking and philosophical discussions.

If you have leave, it is best to actually leave…unless the Asguard need you for an urgent mission: Vacations are important.  Take them when you can.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Random Thoughts | | Leave a comment

Top X Signs that you are a JMU Football fan where X is greater than 5.

OK, I am starting to have football withdrawals. I have been thinking about this for a while. So here is what I have thought of so far.
Duke Dog
  1. You name your dog “Duke” so that you can have your own “Duke Duke Duke Duke Daawwg”.
  2. You name your cat “Blue Hen” so you can watch Duke chase him.
  3. You are sure that Superman wears a JMU uniform #7. (Now out of date)
  4. Even when the team is losing, you can still say “our band is better than your band”.
  5. You really want one of those inflatable dogs for your front door.
  6. Your daughter’s first word is “Duuuuuukes” and is prompted by “First Down J – M – U”.
  7. Your daughter’s first two-word “sentence” is “Duke Dog”.
  8. You own a purple cowboy hat (or other random accessory).
  9. You own thermal underwear and only wear them to football games late in the football season.
  10. You secretly wish your thermal underwear were purple and gold even though it is worn under your clothes (well most of the time anyway).
  11. Your happy place is section 10 row M seat 20 of Brideforth Stadium.
  12. You get all geeked out about meeting anyone named “Showker”.
  13. You think the Dukettes are absolutely gorgeous even though you’ve never seen any of them up close.
  14. You try to convert your friends and family who still root for that orange and blue team in Charlottesville to JMU fans because “it is a more pure form of the game.”
  15. You think “blue” is a really funny shade of purple.

Feel free to add your own.

March 18, 2009 Posted by | Random Thoughts | Leave a comment

More Cute Kid Stories

Melody has started talking a little.  The fun thing is what comes out of her mouth.

“No stop dede’s dink” (No, Stop, Melody’s Drink).  When chasing her brother away from her drink.  She actually hid her drink in a toy tool chest today.

“Uhhh…Don” (Up…Down).  When shining a flashlight on the ceiling, then down to the floor.

“Doahr” (Dora).  Her favorate TV show.

February 8, 2009 Posted by | Family, The Kids | Leave a comment

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